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New Day

Moderna to FDA, Vaccine is Safe and Ready for Children Under Six; Putin Threatens to Expand War if West Interferes in Ukraine; American Trevor Reed Back in U.S. After Prisoner Swap. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired April 28, 2022 - 07:00   ET



VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): -- she's called this three-bedroom home.


She raised her son here. She says the $1,700 she pays in rent is below market value but the $3,500 her new landlord is charging is out of her budget.

SARA ESPINOZA, FLORIDA RENTER: It's not reasonable at all. I guess right now everybody is just price gouging because people need somewhere to live.

YURKEVICH: She's set a new budget of $2,800. This week she found an apartment right next door, but it's smaller and overbudget by $400.

How does that rationalize in your mind?

ESPINOZA: It doesn't. It doesn't rationalize at all. I think it's unfair and makes me upset.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For Laura and Carson, their search conditions with no prospects in sight.

YURKEVICH: So where does that put you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Puts me on the street.


YURKEVICH (on camera): Now, just a couple of states have rent protections in place, rent controls in place, the majority do not including right here in the state of Florida, but, Brianna, with high inflation and increased demand, analysts we spoke to say unfortunately we can only expect rents to rise even more. Brianna?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, this is the squeeze that we are seeing and so many people are suffering. Vanessa, thank you for that great report, we do appreciate it.

New Day continues right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world, it is Thursday, April 28th. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar.

And we do have major breaking news this morning for millions of parents with young children and babies. Moments ago, Moderna announced it is seeking emergency use authorization for its COVID vaccine for children six months through five years old. This has been the missing link, these people -- kids -- have not been covered, not been able to be vaccinated until this point.

KEILAR: Am I smiling? I think I'm smiling. The pharmaceutical giant is presenting data from its latest studies to support this move. The company believes this vaccine will be able to safely protect children against the virus.

BERMAN: Joining me now is CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Okay, Sanjay, give us the numbers here. Give us the presentation.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Okay. So, let me preface by saying this is coming from the pharmaceutical company. As we always say, this data does have to be vetted and validated from the FDA. So, we're just hearing from Moderna.

What they have found by giving 25 micrograms, that's one quarter of the dose they give to adults, they're giving to children under the age of five, let me show you the numbers. They are looking at how much does this protect in terms of antibodies overall, got good antibody response.

Here are the numbers in terms of overall efficacy against symptomatic infection, so getting an infection that has any sort of symptoms at all, could be just a runny nose or whatever. In the six-month to two- years, about 51 percent, effective, two to five years 37 percent effective.

Those are much lower numbers than we're used to seeing from the beginning of the pandemic but very similar, John, to what we see with adults, with omicron and the Moderna vaccine at that higher dose, so against symptomatic infection.

What we see in adults is that it's protective against severe infection, against hospitalization and death but children aren't likely to have severe illness and hospitalization so we don't have numbers for that. Those are the best numbers in terms of efficacy because there weren't enough kids who got severely ill to draw a comparison.

Overall generated antibodies, similar antibodies, and that protection against any infection, talk about 18 to 20 million people here, 18 to 20 million kids, so a significant chunk of the population potentially.

BERMAN: So, that's interesting, but you see those efficacy numbers, 38 percent and 51 percent and are inclined to think, wow, that's not what we were seeing early on with the adult vaccines. So, explain to us why this matters, why it's important even with this level of protection to get kids vaccinated.

GUPTA: Yes. And one point about just the efficacy overall is that they are still using the same vaccine that we have used since the beginning. There's been discussion about should we use an omicron- specific, delta-specific vaccine. That still has not been the case. That may be the case sometime in the future but this is still the original vaccine.

I think the reason this matters is sort of twofold. One is that, I mean, it's still some protection, obviously, you know, if you are talking 50 percent in that certain age group, half the kids do get that protection.

But let me show you something else that's happened with omicron specifically with regard to kids. We can sort of track looking at these antibody studies just how much kids have been affected. They are the red line there over these past several months. That red line really did shoot up. It tells us two things, kids are much more likely to be affected by omicron and we knew they were more likely to get sick. Again, maybe not severely ill, but omicron seemed to affect the upper airway, kids were developing significant croup, sometimes they would need to go to the hospital even if they weren't admitted for that.


So, this was a more significant variant for them. You have more kids being infected. You do have this vaccine. So, even though it's a lower efficacy placed on a larger population that are now being infected by this variant, it could still have a significant impact.

BERMAN: We're talking about the age group roughly zero, six months up through six years old or your fifth year.

What we do know about kids 5 to 11-year-olds is the uptake on vaccinations hasn't been high.

GUPTA: Yes. And, you know, I mean, there's all sorts of polling data to say, look, how likely are you to go get your kid vaccinated, and the polling data for 5 to 11 year olds, it kind of tracked with what ended up happening. About 25 percent to 30 percent of parents saying we're going to go get this right away, we're going to do this immediately when it's authorized, you have about the same percentage who say no, never, and the middle is we will wait and see what happens.

So, I think that that's generally what the case is. We will see, especially as we go into the spring and summer, the numbers are still likely to come down.

I think the big question, John, and I think what a lot of these folks are thinking about is the fall, late summer and fall, when kids are going back into school. At that time you get a lot of comingling of kids again, but also because of the cooler, drier weather, more rapid spread of virus. So, hopefully, the vaccines will be available, authorized for people by then certainly, but you're right, there is a significant percentage who say no or we're going to wait and see.

BERMAN: At least for this group, again, this age group, which has been the missing link, this will give parents a choice, if it's approved, they simply is it not have.

GUPTA: That's right. There has been nothing for them. There is five and older from the Pfizer vaccine, but for this particular age group, there just hasn't been any protection.

BERMAN: All right. Sanjay, big relief for some people we know, Brianna Keilar.

KEILAR: Right, indeed. You were asking him for a friend, weren't you?

BERMAN: Exactly.

KEILAR: A chilling threat this morning from Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader warning that his bloody war against Ukraine is going to expand if the west interferes. And the rhetoric is coming as the U.N. secretary general just came face-to-face with Putin and tells CNN the war will go on until Russia decides to end it.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: If someone intends to intervene in what is happening from the outside and creates unacceptable strategic threats for us, then they should know that our response to oncoming strikes will be swift, lightning fast. We have all the tools for this, ones that no one can brag about. And we won't brag. We will use them if needed.

ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: The war will not end with meetings. The war will end when the Russian Federation decides to end it and when there is after a ceasefire, a possibility of a serious political agreement. We can have all meetings, but that is not what will end the war.


KEILAR: Now, overnight the defense minister in Britain said Putin may seek to consolidate what he already has in Ukraine and dig in like a cancerous growth.

We're also learning about more horrors out of Donetsk. The U.S. has credible information now that Russian military units have executed Ukrainians there while they were surrendering. Their hands were bound, their bodies showing signs of torture and they were killed execution- style.

BERMAN: Overnight, there was an explosion in the Russian-occupied city of Kherson.

Now, remember, the Russians are in control of this city and Russian media says the blast took place near Kherson's main television facility which is broadcasting Russian-controlled information. A Russian-appointed official in the city says a return to Ukrainian control is now impossible.

Across the eastern part of Ukraine, the Ukrainian military reports intense fire from Russian forces and the think tank the institute for the study of war assesses that, quote, Russian forces have adopted a sounder pattern of operational movement in Eastern Ukraine. We will talk about what that means.

KEILAR: I want to go live to Lviv, Ukraine, and bring in CNN's Scott McLean on the very latest there. Scott, what can you tell us?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Brianna. Yes, as you guys mentioned, the United States now says that it has seen credible reports that Russian troops have executed Ukrainian soldiers while they are in the process of surrendering.

Now, these comments were made by the U.S. ambassador for global justice who was speaking at the U.N. yesterday. She was not specific in exactly where or when this took place other than the Donetsk area. We have reached out to get further clarification but she says that if those reports are, in fact, true that it would be a clear violation of the rules of war. And she says that -- and she says that this is not an isolated incident, this is a sign of a larger pattern on the part of Russian troops.

Meanwhile, fighting, as you mentioned, continues in the east, and we're seeing new pictures released by local authorities in one small hamlet in the Donetsk region where officials there say that 27 homes have been hit by shelling.


We are also seeing new video the city of Severodonetsk, which is in the Luhansk region, of a hospital hit by shelling. And in this video, you can see one wall completely blown out, a section of the wall completely blown out, there's glass everywhere, there's metal, drywall strewn all about. Local official says that one woman was killed in that blast.

It is the only -- or one of only two, I should say, hospitals that are still functioning in that area and they say despite this, it will continue to operate.

And then you mentioned Kherson as well, John. As you said, this is the southern city of Ukraine where the Russians have been in control there since early March, and now this new video showing an explosion in midair.

Now, according to Russian media, they're saying that Ukrainians fired three missiles into the city, two of them were shot down, the third one landed near that T.V. broadcasting facility, and one other thing to mention and that is that Kherson officials also say that, beginning on Sunday, they will begin to use the Russian ruble as legal tender there.

KEILAR: All right. Scott McLean live in Lviv, thank you for that report.

It took five desperate tries but a key woman is finally reunited with her parents after she single-handedly recued them from their home in Mariupol. The parents had been hiding out in their basement since March with no heat or gas or water as the fierce fighting raged on all around them.

In these videos that Victoria Metlushko took while driving through the city center to reach her parents, you can see what she saw here, the destruction of this once vibrant city, block after block of blown out buildings, broken sidewalks, piles of rubble, a city left in ruins.

And joining me now to talk about her fearless rescue mission is Victoria Metlushko, along with her mother, Tatiana, who we are so grateful to see safe and sound there.

Victoria, you are a mom, you got your eight-year-old son to safety in Germany and then you tried four times unsuccessfully to get your parents out of Mariupol, success on the fifth try. Can you tell us what that was like?

VICTORIA METLUSHKO, RESCUED PARENTS FROM MARIUPOL: Hello. Yes, you know, I didn't know that I should go to Mariupol. First when the war started, I took my son and we went to Germany. But after several days, there was no connection with my parents, with Mariupol, and I decided to go and to try to go to enter the city and to try to help my parents, to try to rescue them.

So, I tried for the first time and soldiers didn't let me in the center because it was fighting there. The second try, they just closed the city. And the third try, I stuck in the small village near Mariupol. So, I stayed there around four or five days. So, I come to out, and because of the soldiers, they did not let people go out also, they said because of fighting. And only on the fifth try, yes, I entered the city and managed to take my parents from Mariupol.

KEILAR: You had gotten a lead about a different route, right, to get into the city, but one of the most amazing things, and I think of this in my mind of you, you were in a Mini Cooper. You were in a small car, right?

METLUSHKO: Yes, I have a small car and, yes, I know that it was very dangerous to go with a small car inside the city because it's -- you -- I guess you saw the video and there is no actual roads. The city is damaged so it's very dangerous to go with a small car, because if something happens with the car, I just am stuck in the city and no one will rescue me.

So, my fifth trip was -- took me -- it took me two days just to get to the city because I went through Kryvyi Rih, Kherson and Melitopol, Berdyansk, and only after that I came to Mariupol.

KEILAR: I can't imagine what it was like to see your parents and get them to safety, but I wonder, Victoria, what that was like and what kept you going.


METLUSHKO: To be honest, when I came back without any success, I was close to give up. But some friends of mine -- because when you go to the city, you are certain to talk with volunteers, you know, some information, you collect some information that other people don't know maybe. And some friends of mine, they said that we managed to enter through that region with this new route, and I decided to try one more time and I succeeded.

KEILAR: One more time. Victoria, what a dangerous and brave journey. Tatiana, that is some love that you and your daughter have for each other and that she has for her dad as well. Victoria, thank you so much for sharing this incredible story with us.

METLUSHKO: Thank you. Thank you so much.

KEILAR: Just in, we do have some new images out of Texas. Trevor Reed is back home.

Plus, the White House vows to press for the release of two other Americans held in Russia after Trevor Reed was freed. Paul Whelan's twin brother is going to join us next.

BERMAN: And Russia accused of dropping metal darts to kill civilians in Bucha. What the town's coroner revealed to us, just ahead.



BERMAN: Breaking overnight, new photos of Trevor Reed after his release from Russia after three years in custody. Congressman August Pfluger tweeted the pictures with Reed saying, quote, this is the moment we have all been praying for. Welcome come, Trevor Reed.

Reed's mother, who has fought so hard for his release, wrote, it has been a day of joy for the family, but hard for Paul Whelan. Whelan is another American detained in Russia since 2018.

And joining me now is Paul's twin brother, David Whelan. David, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

What's it like to hear that from Trevor Reed's mother, Paula, even as she's rejoicing, she's sending thoughts to your brother and your family?

DAVID WHELAN, BROTHER IMPRISONED IN RUSSIA: Well, I think Paula is very gracious and I think she probably represents many of the families of detainees. There are dozens and dozens of American families who have their loved ones held abroad as hostages or detainees, and I think we all feel the same way. When any one of them is freed and gets to go home to their family, it's almost as good as having our own loved one come home.

BERMAN: I wonder what are your reaction was or the succession of reactions you had when you first learned -- and I do understand you saw it on the media -- that Trevor Reed was coming home but not your brother, Paul.

WHELAN: Yes, it was hard. In fact, I got a phone call from my sister, and as you say, we tend not to hear from any official source, we get it from the media, and so you're sort of processing things almost in real-time. And so there was a surprise that anybody was being released first and then a thrill that it was for the Reeds, that Trevor was going to get home.

We knew that he had been sick, he had been in solitary, he had been in a terrible condition and was not going to get help in Russia. So, that was great news, then, obviously, very much disappointed that Paul was not part of the arrangement that President Biden and his team had been able to put together.

BERMAN: So, the Reed family in the announcement thanked a whole success of administration officials, from the president, State Department, NSC, the embassy over there and thanked them for tirelessly working for their son's release. What has your experience been with this administration?

WHELAN: I think we've had the same experience except for the result. And I would agree that there are so many people in the American government who are not appreciated for the hard work they do every day, and it's not just the hard decisions that President Biden has to do, but he has layers and layers and layers of people all the way down to the American citizen services folks in Moscow who are helping us all the time. They're doing great, we just haven't seen Paul's release at the end of it.

BERMAN: I've heard you say that your brother's case is harder or more challenging in some ways. Why?

WHELAN: That's my perception. I sort of look at it as if we're doing negotiations with Russia or other foreign nations that are holding Americans hostage, those people are looking for concessions from the U.S. government and the U.S. government has just given one up to the Russian government, Mr. Yaroshenko, so that's one less option that the U.S. has and that they also may have delineated lines that they are not willing to cross, so they may not be willing to do exchanges with more hardened criminals or serious criminals to bring Paul home. So, it seems like the options are narrowed.

BERMAN: Well, I know you had your eyes on Konstantin Yaroshenko, and I say that for a lack of word, you thought he might be the guy traded for your brother, now he is off the table. I mean, it's already been used in an exchange. I would also say you hope the Biden administration has the courage to make the deal necessary to bring your brother home. What do you mean by that?

WHELAN: The president has to make terribly hard decisions all the time, and I don't envy him and I wouldn't want to be in his shoes. He represents all of the American citizens wherever they are and Paul is one of those.

I think it takes courage and I think it takes a deliberateness in making decisions to make those choices to bring an American home and it's not a palatable choice, even in the case of Trevor to send home a drug smuggler who still has another ten years on his sentence.


These are people who are correctly convicted in the U.S. being traded for people who were incorrectly or unjustly convicted in Russia. And so we're essentially laundering a bad rule of law and it's a terrible position to be in, but I hope that he will be courageous in looking for opportunities to bring Paul home.

BERMAN: And I know it's complicated and you're choosing your words carefully and I do respect that.

One of the people who has been mentioned is Viktor Bout, who is in U.S. -- this guy is like an arms dealer, right, a convicted arms dealer. Is that someone that you would be willing to see exchanged for your brother?

WHELAN: Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko were the two names that were given to Paul on the first weekend he had been arrested. The FSB told him, don't worry, you will be home very shortly because we're going to just trade you for these two folks.

Viktor Bout is known as the merchant of death. I think it's very unlikely that the U.S. government would trade Paul, who is literally just a tourist, who is entrapped by the Russian security service for the merchant of death.

BERMAN: I have got to let you go. But if you've heard from Paul or do you know how Paul feels this morning?

WHELAN: He spoke to my parents yesterday. He had heard on the Russian news, had it translated by the prisoners that he was being left behind. And that is his question, why am I being left behind. And that's a very hard question for any adult to have to answer to their child. And we don't have any answer for why that happened.

BERMAN: All right. David Whelan, I do appreciate you being with us. We are so sorry for what you and your family are going through and we hope you can keep the dialogue open and keep on pressing. Thank you.

WHELAN: Thank you.

BERMAN: As images come in of the horrors unfolding in Bucha, the coroner there joins New Day with how gruesome the scene is on the ground.

KEILAR: Plus, we are getting a new view of a hospital in Eastern Ukraine that was blown up by Russian bombing.