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Pfizer Seeks EUA for Vaccine for Children Ages Five to 11; U.S. Urges China to Cease Pressure on Taiwan; "THIS IS LIFE" Focuses on Anti-Asian Hate. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired October 07, 2021 - 08:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: In just a few hours, President Biden will head to Chicago where he'll be speaking about the importance of vaccine requirements. The Biden administration has put into place several vaccine requirements, including one that requires companies with more than 100 employees to require full vaccination or weekly tests from their workforce. They say the mandates cover about 100 million workers in the country.

And joining us more to talk about this is Jeff Zients. He is the White House COVID-19 response coordinator.

Jeff, thanks for being with us.


KEILAR: OK, first things first, we are seeing here that Pfizer has now applied for Emergency Use Authorization for its vaccine for children age five to 11. Can you give us an update on how this affects the timeline for people that age?

ZIENTS: Brianna, I think we can all agree that getting a safe and effective vaccine for kids five to 11 is a really important next step in our fight against the virus. And this is an important development this morning. Pfizer's applying for Emergency Use Authorization. The FDA scheduled time to review this with its advisory panel at the end of the month. That would be followed by the CDC's recommendation. So it's dependent upon the science and the medicine and the FDA and the CDC's actions, but those are all at the end of the month and if they -- if there is approval or authorization, and CDC recommendation, we are ready, we have the supply, we're working with states to set up convenient locations for parents and kids to get vaccinated, including pediatricians offices and community sites. So we'll be ready pending the CDC and FDA action.

KEILAR: You think this could begin before Thanksgiving?

ZIENTS: Again, up to the FDA and CDC scientific processes. But, yes, it could. And we will be ready as soon as the FDA and CDC give the go ahead.

KEILAR: OK. And, look, I know you've been looking at some of these poll numbers about parents and whether they're willing to vaccinate their kids. And what we've seen is that there are parents who may not be vaccine hesitant for adults or for themselves, but when it comes to their kids, they are approaching this with more hesitancy.

How do you combat that?

ZIENTS: Well, there are a lot of parents who are ready to have their five to 11-year-olds vaccinated. And as I said, we'll be ready pending CDC and FDA recommendations to do just that.

As the vaccine was introduced back in December, the level of questions and confidence was lower. And what we've seen is across time it has grown. We now have 78 percent of adult Americans with at least one shot. I would anticipate that as parents and their children have questions of their pediatricians and other local health professionals and they get those questions answered, that more and more parents and kids will get -- will want their kids to get vaccinated.

KEILAR: Yes. I'm in line ready for it. I cannot wait. You cannot stop me.

So ahead of the president's visit here to Chicago, you have some new research that you've been looking at that shows something about vaccine mandates and how that works.


What can you tell us?

ZIENTS: Well, you know, the president has a six-part plan to accelerate our path out of the pandemic. A cornerstone of that plan is getting the unvaccinated vaccinated. The president did a lot across the last many months to make vaccines readily available, convenient at over 80,000 locations, states offered incentives and the president decided a month or two ago that it was time to have vaccine requirements to get that final group of people vaccinated. And what we're seeing is that the early movers on vaccine requirements are having really strong results. Vaccine rates up 20, 25 percent, into 90 plus percent of people vaccinated. So vaccine requirements work.

They're also good for the economy. And it gets people back into the workplace. Economists have estimated that up to 5 million more people will be able to join the labor force. And we all know, from our own personal habits, consumer spending, going to restaurants, going to local small businesses, as we beat the virus, as we accelerate our path out of the pandemic, there will be more consumer spending, which helps strengthen the economy.

And the last point I'd make is that vaccine requirements are widely supported by businesses. Over 25 percent of businesses already have put together their vaccine requirement plans and are implementing them. Labor unions, universities, healthcare systems, all support vaccination requirements, as do -- does the majority of the American public.

So vaccine requirements work, they're good for the economy and they're widely supported.

KEILAR: The question now is, how far will government go in implementing these and, you know, in our neighbor, Canada, the prime minister just announced a requirement for passengers and for staff, air and rail travel, they have to be vaccinated and this is going into effect the end of next month. Is this something the U.S. needs to do?

ZIENTS: So vaccine requirements that the president is talking about today are for the workforce, covering 100 million workers. That's two out of three of all workers in the U.S. And we believe that's a very effective and efficient way to implement vaccine requirements.

As you know, on airplanes, people are required to mask. Just last month, as part of the president's plan, the fine for not masking was doubled.

What I will say is that every lever that we can pull is on the table as a possibility here. So we'll continue to look at ways to ensure that more and more Americans get vaccinated.

KEILAR: We look at the major carriers. You see Delta does not have a vaccine requirement for its staff. You look at United and others, they do. And the numbers don't lie. It tells you that it works because Delta has a significantly lower number of staff that is vaccinated.

So, I mean, it works, right? It works. So why not implement that?

ZIENTS: It really -- it really works. United is headquartered in Chicago. The United CEO will be with the president today. United has 99 percent of its 67,000 workers have now gotten vaccinated. And many, many airlines have followed suit.

As you mentioned, Delta has not yet put in place a requirement. We would encourage all airlines and all large employers to have vaccine requirements.

KEILAR: Do you think the U.S. will more than encourage that they may require them, and not just the major carriers, all carriers at some point here soon?

ZIENTS: Well, we have done these types of requirements. As you mentioned, the Department of Labor for all employers greater than 100, if you want to contract with the federal government, which the major airlines do, you have to have a vaccination requirement. All of your employees need to be vaccinated. All federal employees need to be vaccinated. Healthcare workers need to be vaccinated based on the president's actions.

So the vaccine requirements, as I said, cover two out of three workers across the economy and certainly cover the airlines.

KEILAR: All right, Jeff Zients, thank you so much, White House COVID- 19 response coordinator. We appreciate your time.

ZIENTS: Thank you, Brianna.

KEILAR: Coming up, the United States sending a clear message to China, back off of Taiwan.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And one of America's most wanted fugitives spotted potentially behind home plate.

KEILAR: Everyone loves baseball.



BERMAN: So a great deal of activity, potentially dangerous activity, over Taiwan. Taiwan has reported that Chinese warplanes have entered its air defense zone 150 times in October alone. So what does that mean?

Well, you can tell by the man I'm standing with right now, we're going to explain to you the significance of that. CNN's chief national security correspondent, anchor of CNN "NEWSROOM," Jim Sciutto.

Jim, you told us that China was watching what happened in Afghanistan and how the U.S. withdrew from there, trying to get signs of how the United States would extend its power outward.

Are we now seeing the results of that over Taiwan?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, pretty much. And, by the way, it didn't start with Afghanistan by any means. There's been concern about China's intention to invade Taiwan for a number of years. You had Admiral Davidson, the head of Indo-Pacific Command, say he expects it to happen in the next five years.

But Afghanistan was a marker because China looks at that and says, if the U.S. will withdraw there, has no stomach for that conflict, and will leave its allies behind, might it do the same with Taiwan?

And, by the way, when you see these planes flying over there, by the dozens, that is message sending, but it's also intelligence gathering, right, because you test the ability of Taiwan air defenses, how quickly do they respond, how do they respond. And, by the way, what does the U.S. do in response? It's a test, no question.

BERMAN: Every time you do it, you learn something.


BERMAN: And every time you do it, you also put a strain on Taiwan and its much more limited resources.

We learned yesterday that the president, Joe Biden, is going to meet with Xi Jinping virtually before the end of the year. So that's happening. And it's clearly it will be discussed there.

And then we heard the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, address it more directly.

[08:45:01] Let's listen.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: The activity is destabilizing. It risks miscalculation. And it has the potential to undermine regional peace and stability. So, we strongly urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure and coercion directed at Taiwan.


BERMAN: So I guess the operative words there are strongly urge.


BERMAN: How much of a difference does that make?

SCIUTTO: We -- we -- American presidents have been doing that for years. China has been doing a massive military buildup in part to make it a -- if not an automatic win, a likely win for them so Taiwan and the U.S. calculate we can't win this, you know what, we've lost this peace here.

I mean it's dramatic. This is an independent country, Taiwan is. It's a thriving democracy. It's been not a treaty ally of the U.S., but a friend of the U.S. for many decades. This would be an enormous event. And, by the way, from China's perspective, it's not a crime to do this. It is righting a historical -- it would be like if Texas was under Mexican control, right? Americans would say, we've got to get that back. That's basically the way Xi Jinping looks at Taiwan.

BERMAN: So Taiwan's defense minister says it expects an invasion from China by 2025.

Jim, you've been talking about this and writing about it extensively for some time. This isn't an abstraction.


BERMAN: This may even be a likelihood.

SCIUTTO: It is. You know, I don't like to be right about this, nut -- and, by the way, others have been right before me about this in much higher and more powerful positions than me, but China's very public about it. You've got to listen to what Xi says. Xi talks about this as our right. He talks about Taiwan as part of our country. So now you have U.S. official and Taiwanese officials talking about this not as and if, but a when.

And then the question becomes, does the U.S. go to war over this? And I'll tell you, I've asked senior people in the Pentagon for a number of years, through multiple administrations, they're not so sure, right? In fact many of them would say, I'd bet against it. And who else might bet against that? It might be Beijing. Now, they could miscalculate, right? That's happened before. And then

you end up in a war neither side wants. But China sees the U.S. as weak. And when it sees the U.S. as weak, that makes them more likely to act.

BERMAN: I can't stress what a big deal this is, Jim. We're lucky to have you covering it. Thanks so much for explaining it to us.


KEILAR: In a year when incidents of anti-Asian hate hit a fevered pitch in the United States, CNN's Lisa Ling asks, how did we get here and how do we move forward?

Plus, an American fugitive possibly spotted hiding in plain sight with some peanuts and Cracker Jacks.



KEILAR: This Sunday, CNN is bringing you an all-new season of "THIS IS LIFE WITH LISA LING." And this season Lisa will be tackling some of the most challenging issues that have defined the past tumultuous year by taking a deep dive into our collective past to uncover some hard truths and find some answers. The first episode looks at the 40-year- old murder of Chinese-American Vincent Chin and what it can tell us about the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes today.

Here's a preview.


LISA LING, HOST, "THIS IS LIFE WITH LISA LING": By 1982, one in five Detroit residents were out of a job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's few and far between. Jobs are hard to come by. How about you? You hiring?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only thing I can say is, move somewhere else?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Suddenly, after a lifetime of well-paying jobs, where they could afford a house, two cars, a recreational vehicle, a summer cottage, suddenly it was wiped out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only answer is charity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People became destitute. The frustration turned into anger. People want to know, why is this happening to me? Who can I blame? In the beginning, the workers blamed the companies. Factories blamed the workers. The politicians blamed each other. And, in the end, they kind of all reached a consensus, let's blame Japan.


KEILAR: Joining us now is the host of "THIS IS LIFE," Lisa Ling. Lisa, thank you so much. This looks so incredibly interesting. And I

was really hanging on that video. I want to see this episode.

Tell us a little bit more about this particular person, Vincent Chin, and why this matters so much for now.

LISA LING, HOST, "THIS IS LIFE WITH LISA LING": Well, Brianna, Vincent Chin, as you said, was a Chinese-American man living in Detroit in the 1980s. He was actually attending a -- at a bar, partying with his friends, celebrating his bachelor party, during a time when America, particularly Detroit, which was the automotive capital of the world and of the U.S., was experiencing financial disorder. And so a couple of out of work autoworkers got into an altercation with Vincent Chin inside this bar, accused him of being Japanese and taking away their jobs.

They were kicked out. They followed Vincent Chin outside and beat him to death with a baseball bat. The two killers never served a day in jail or prison, were given a $3,000 fine, and, you know, this is -- we talk about this scapegoating of Asians in this country and that has been what the Asian community has been experiencing over the last year and a half, since COVID took root here.

And this episode really looks at the historical scapegoating of Asian- Americans and -- which dates back more than a century. And this whole season we are looking into moments, episodes in American history that have been left out of our history books, but have informed and impacted how we are living today.

KEILAR: Yes, many people won't have heard of this case. And they're going to hear it from you.


It's a bit of a departure for you. You were always taking us very much into our present world. This is a bit of looking into the past to learn about ourselves.

LING: It is. You know, our show in the past has been very experiential, emotional, sometimes even physical. And we had to pivot this season because of COVID.

But it's interesting, Brianna, because right now some of the fiercest debates going on in government, in local legislatures, in school districts, in people's homes are about what to teach our kids, like, what history to teach our kids. And so for us it was really important to isolate some of those stories -- I mean there are so many that didn't make it into our history books -- because we realized that we can't know where we are going unless we recognize where we've been.

KEILAR: Yes, look, you're always teaching us something new and no doubt this season is going to be more of that. I can't wait for it.

Lisa, thank you for joining us this morning.

LING: Thank you, Brianna. KEILAR: And you can be sure to tune in to Lisa's program. It will

premiere, "THIS IS LIFE WITH LISA LING," going to premiere this coming Sunday night at 10:00 Eastern and Pacific only on CNN.

So it's not unusual to see a famous face at an L.A. Dodgers home game, right? Well, it is unusual to see a most wanted fugitive. U.S. Marshals think the fan isolated in a photo could be John Ruffo. He was a convicted -- he was convicted for one of the biggest bank fraud scams in U.S. history. He never showed up to prison. And he has been basically a ghost now for 23 years.

In 2016, authorities got a tip that he was behind home plate at a Red Sox/Dodgers game and that he wore a blue shirt. They're not 100 percent sure that that's Ruffo, and they are asking the public for help identifying him.

And CNN's coverage continues after the break.