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New Day Saturday

FDA Issues Emergency Use Authorization For Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine As U.S. Tops 294,000 COVID Deaths; White House Ordered FDA Chief To Authorize Pfizer Vaccine Or Resign; Biden Pledges To Beat The Virus As He Unveils New Cabinet Picks; Supreme Court Rejects Trump's Bid To Overturn Election Results; Trump Loses At Supreme Court After Losing Popular Vote; Electoral College Set To Meet Monday To Seal Election Results. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired December 12, 2020 - 06:00   ET



JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jessica Dean covering the Biden transition in Wilmington, Delaware. This is CNN.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Voice over): An absolutely critical development in the fight against the coronavirus. FDA advisers recommending emergency authorization of Pfizer's vaccine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Voice over): We're going to see vaccine actually being administered this week almost for certain. About 3 million doses are going to be distributed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (Voice over): We have a vaccine that is very safe, that is very effective.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Voice over): It's a triumph for humans and it's a triumph for science.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (Voice over): The Supreme Court has spoken and it is game over for what was a long-shot lawsuit, shutting down Republican efforts to stop Joe Biden from becoming president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (Voice over): I was still surprised at the extent to which even after a very clear defeat of the president in the election, that so many Republicans would be willing to do so much to undermine democracy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Voice over): Rudy Giuliani, he has lost every case so far, he will continue to lose every case. It should be over. Let's hope it is.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good Saturday morning to you. I'm Victor Blackwell.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Amara Walker, in for Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: So over the next few hours, we're expecting to see the final steps from the CDC and the FDA and those will allow vaccinations to begin as early as Monday. Now, there's a CDC advisory committee that's going to vote this afternoon on recommending Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine and that would set up the agency to officially accept the recommendation after that.

WALKER: Now, these final hurdles will follow the FDA issuing emergency-use authorization for the vaccine last night. Now the first shipments can begin rolling out.

BLACKWELL: So that's the good news. Here's the bad news. The U.S. set records on Friday for new COVID cases, deaths and hospitalizations.

WALKER: Let's bring in CNN's Polo Sandoval with more and Polo, what's latest? Because we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but we are still deep inside that tunnel, so to speak.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Amara. Certainly mix of news on this Saturday morning. That's because Friday brought a mix of this major milestone. The first, obviously, certainly want to celebrate is that many healthcare facilities across the country are just that much closer to receiving their allotment of the Pfizer vaccine, including the healthcare facility behind me here in New York's upper east side.

But the other and certainly somber milestone yesterday as we saw the highest number of hospitalizations, of infections and of deaths, over 3,300 Americans losing their lives to the virus just yesterday.


SANDOVAL (Voice over): A COVID-19 vaccine can't come soon enough with this weekend marking the end of the deadliest week in the U.S. when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic. On Friday, the federal government ordered 100 million additional vaccine doses from Moderna. That's ahead of an FDA vote on that vaccine next week. Though Pfizer's version is soon to be offered to a portion of the American public, health experts warn we won't see any meaningful widespread impacts until well into next year.

MEGAN RANNEY, EMERGENCY ROOM PHYSICIAN: There's still a lot of time until we get into enough people's arms for us to have that herd immunity that we need in order to protect all of us, the people who can get the vaccine and the people who can't, from infection.

SANDOVAL (Voice over): Until that happens, that's emergency room doctor Megan Ranney, we should still stick to the basics, mask wearing and social distancing among them. Anything to help slow the spread of a virus leaving much of the nation's healthcare system in crisis. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says at least 200 hospitals reported being completely full last week and more than 90 percent of ICU beds were occupied in one-third of all U.S. hospitals.

In California, L.A. County's health director said the county will soon experience unprecedented and catastrophic suffering and death because of the COVID-19 surge. Another 35,000 people tested positive for the virus across the state yesterday. That's 4,600 more than the previous record set just days ago. Some California regions are implementing stay-at-home orders, including Lake Tahoe, likely to lead to another devastating blow for area businesses.

MATT BIRD, MANAGER, SONNEY'S BBQ SHACK BAR & GRILL: There's no way that we are even doing 20 percent of what we would typically be doing at this time of year.

SANDOVAL (Voice over): Come Monday, dining restrictions will once again tighten in New York City. Governor Andrew Cuomo is banning indoor dining temporarily as infection and hospitalization rates continue to rise.

ANDREW CUOMO, GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: We have to get through this period, right? And the faster we get through this period, the faster all businesses can open again.

SANDOVAL (Voice over): Starting today, Pennsylvania also prohibiting indoor dining. Also on Monday, Virginia will be implementing statewide curfews from midnight to 5:00 A.M. and Delaware issued a stay-at-home advisory with a 10:00 P.M. curfew for restaurants and bars. All of these signs that life is far from returning to normal, even with unprecedented vaccine roll-outs nearly in full effect.



SANDOVAL: That's a look at what some of the states are doing to try to get ahead of these numbers here. In the meantime, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, also painting a quite bleak picture, Victor and Amara, this week, saying that the number of deaths, COVID-related deaths are likely going to continue to increase for the next two or three months.

That, of course, as these efforts continue to not only secure and and distribute this vaccine, a monumental task for healthcare facilities across the country. Back to you.

BLACKWELL: Polo Sandoval, for us there. Polo, thanks so much. In a few minutes, we're going to check in with Dr. Saju Mathew to get his take on the vaccine news and we're going to talk about who should take the vaccine, who will have to hold off for now. We're going to talk the restrictions as well and what we all have to do to slow the spread before most of us get vaccinated.

WALKER: Very important questions to get answered. Well, overnight, the president attempted to take credit for the record development of a coronavirus vaccine. He also railed against the latest failure to overturn the results of the election.

CNN's Sarah Westwood joining us now from the White House and this weekend is supposed to be a historic moment for science, but then you're hearing White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows reportedly telling the FDA commissioner, Stephen Hahn, to submit his resignation if the vaccine wasn't authorized by last night.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Amara and Victor. The president putting a lot of pressure publicly on the FDA to grant that emergency-use authorization for the vaccine and so that authorization last night came after something of a pressure campaign from the White House.

As you just mentioned, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows had placed a call Friday morning to Dr. Stephen Hahn, the head of the FDA, saying you might as well submit your resignation essentially if this is not authorized by the end of the day.

And CNN also learned that the president was venting behind closed doors about the fact that the U.K. was able to roll out its vaccine, the vaccine, earlier this week and the U.S. was behind because the FDA was pretty clear about the fact that they wanted to do this by the book, they wanted to build public confidence that this vaccine was handled according to science, it was not rushed because of politics and so that's something that Dr. Steven Hahn has been vocal about trying to do.

Nonetheless, the president still putting pressure on the FDA, earlier Friday morning in fact, tweeting that the FDA was an old, slow turtle of an agency and that Dr. Steven Hahn should get a move on those vaccines and those moves from the president raise eyebrows all the more because the FDA did appear on the verge of authorizing the emergency-use of that vaccine Friday even as the president was railing against the agency and as the chief of staff was threatening its leader.

Then last night, the president did, shortly after midnight, tweet attempting to take credit for the authorization, "Tweeting FDA approves Pfizer vaccine for emergency-use," in all caps. Now the complex process of vaccine distribution can begin. We can be sure that the president is going to try to take as much credit for that as possible as the vaccines get shipped out during his presidency, Amara and Victor.

BLACKWELL: Yes. The president tweeted about that last night as well. So also happening last night, Supreme Court swatted away this Texas lawsuit supported by more than a dozen other Republican attorneys general, more than 100 members of Republican conference in Congress. What's been the reaction from the White House?

WESTWOOD: Well, President Trump last night tweeting that the Supreme Court has really let him down. They were banking on this long-shot case, which never really had a chance of succeeding at all, to really further the president's legal claims because here he is at the end of the road, at least from a legal standpoint.

On Monday, the Electoral College will make President-elect Biden's win official in a way that the president can't undo. The legal team has an awareness of that and CNN reported this week that even the president's legal advisers are starting to see the end of the road in terms of their efforts. The Supreme Court, remember, is made up of three justices that the president appointed and had even hinted as they were being nominated, Justice Amy Coney Barrett is who I'm talking about, that they might need to decide the election, but they came down decisively against him last night, rejecting this bid from the Texas attorney general, other attorney generals as saying that they did not have legal standing to bring this case to invalidate millions of votes, Victor and Amara.

WALKER: All right. Sarah Westwood, thank you very much.

BLACKWELL: President-elect Joe Biden made a vow to use every power available to him as president to create a national, coordinated strategy to beat the coronavirus.

WALKER: He also says he will work to restore public confidence in the vaccine, stressing that scientific integrity led us to this point. CNN political reporter Rebecca Buck is in Washington this morning with more. Hi there, Rebecca.

REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Good morning, Amara. Well, the national strategy that President-elect Biden is promoting, we heard more details about that this week, his plan, in the first 100 days, to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. An ambitious plan from the president elect to meet this historic moment and let's go through some of what we can expect from Biden and his team when it comes to those first 100 days and combating the coronavirus.


We heard from him first about vaccines. Obviously, a key factor when it comes to combating the virus and with the FDA's authorization of the Pfizer vaccine, that effort is going to begin right away, even before Biden is sworn in as president, but he will continue the effort that is going to be started here by the Trump administration. His goal, he said this week, is to have 100 million shots completed at least in those first 100 days.

The second part of this is going to be mask mandates. We haven't seen the federal government under President Trump take action when it comes to masks. The president, in fact, has resisted himself wearing a mask, even to set an example for the American people.

We're going to see something very different from President-elect Biden when it comes to masks. He, of course, wears one himself. Not only will he encourage mask wearing, but as much as he can from the federal level, he will require it.

Now, he's limited in his power to do so, but he'll look at federal property, he'll look at interstate travel. Those will be some of his targets for mask mandates in those first 100 days.

And then the third part of this is going to be getting kids back to school obviously. That has been a huge burden for parents in the pandemic. Kids have fallen behind, especially lower income children, and so he's going to be focused, he said this week, on getting schools reopened. That will, of course, involve Congress. He's going to work with Congress, Biden said, to try to get the funding to safely reopen these schools, but as we've seen from the science, schools are lower risk, children are lower risk for spreading the coronavirus. So this is going to be a number one target as well for the Biden administration.

All of this comes as Biden, this week, announced some of his cabinet picks and his picks for his administration to lead on the coronavirus effort, including Xavier Becerra, who will be his nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, and of course Dr. Anthony Fauci will be returning in the Biden administration as the Chief Medical Officer, his point man on coronavirus, and already he is helping Biden in this transition, Amara, Victor.

WALKER: And Rebecca, we know President-elect Biden will be heading to Georgia in the coming days to campaign for Democratic candidates in the Senate runoffs here in Georgia. That's going to coincide with the start of early voting. What can we expect when he arrives?

BUCK: That's right. Well, we have this health battle on the one hand and a major political battle happening in Georgia on the other hand and the Biden team is very much focused on both. He is expected to be traveling to Georgia this week, this coming week rather, to campaign on behalf of the Democratic candidates there.

The Biden team and knows what is at stake. It's control of the Senate and not only that, but the fate, potentially, of President-elect Biden's legislative agenda.

All of the big things that he wants to get done are going to hinge on the outcome of these Georgia Senate races. So it's an all-hands-on- deck situation for him and for Democrats and it's not only about boots on the ground and that travel that we're going to see from the president-elect, but also money. He has already -- his campaign has already spent $5 million, we reported this week, on these races and raised another $10 million for the Democratic candidates, Amara, Victor.

WALKER: Yes. Lots of money being spent on this race. Rebecca Buck, appreciate you. Thank you.

BUCK: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: So once the Electoral College votes and Biden gets those 306 votes, what is next for President Trump and his team? Will the Republicans still support these false claims from President Trump and Rudy Giuliani? Errol Louis is up later this hour with some insight.

WALKER: Plus, what you need to know about the potential side effects of the coronavirus vaccines. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks to vaccine trial volunteers about the potential after effects and their experiences.

BLACKWELL: Plus, dry ice. About 100 degrees below 0. We're going to take you inside a facility working right now to make enough dry ice to ship these vaccines. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There has never been more demand in history for a product to save lives.





BLACKWELL: Eighteen minutes after the hour now. Ahead of authorizing a COVID vaccine here in the U.S., CDC experts are of course studying possible side effect.

WALKER: And doctors say reactions have been greater than those with the flu vaccine. The COVID vaccine side effects are still expected to be low grade. CNN's Sanjay Gupta has more on what we know so far about vaccine side effects.


YASIR BATALVI, VACCINE TRIAL PARTICIPANT: That evening was rough. I mean, I developed a low grade fever and fatigue and chills and ...

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (Voice over): Yasir Batalvi is describing the side effects that he experienced during Moderna's COVID vaccine trial.

BATALVI: Thirty minutes later, I had a little bit of stiffness, muscle soreness in my left arm. It's like you're punched in the arm basically.

GUPTA: Right. When you're going through this whole process, Yasir, 22- page consent form, hearing about all the potential side effects, knowing that you're trialling something that, you know, we don't have a lot of data on at the time, did you have any second thoughts before taking it?

BATALVI: Honestly, Sanjay, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's claiming an efficacy of ...

GUPTA (Voice over): Every decision we make is risk versus reward and when the company announced early data showing over 94 percent efficacy, Yasir was confident it had been worth it.

BATALVI: It doesn't last long and the potential of folks not getting this vaccine and actually infecting people with COVID, those effects last a lot longer and they can be life or death.

GUPTA (Voice over): These are early days and the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna use a type of genetic sequence called mRNA, a technology that has never before been used in humans outside of a clinical trial. mRNA stands for messenger RNA. It carries the instruction for making whatever protein you want, in this case the spike protein the virus uses to enter our cells.


These vaccines require two doses, one to prime, one to boost, a few weeks apart so the body mounts what we hope will be a lasting immune response. One of the biggest concerns now is that the side effects that Yasir is describing, fatigue, muscle pain, fever and chills, will deter people from getting that second dose.

MONCEF SLAOUI, CHIEF SCIENTIFIC ADVISER, OPERATION WARP SPEED: Maybe 10, 15 percent of the subjects immunized have quite noticable side effects that usually last no more than 24, 36 hours.

GUPTA: Do you worry about the impact of this vaccine on your long- term?

BATALVI: I gave it a lot of thought and the only thing that gave me some calm was trying to research the actual vaccine, trying to understand how mRNA vaccines work.

GUPTA (Voice over): We understand this for sure, you can't get infected from this vaccine because the vaccine doesn't actually contain the virus and even though these are genetic-based vaccines, they don't alter our DNA and as far as those side effects go, that may even be a good sign.

PAUL OFFIT, DIRECTOR, VACCINE EDUCATION CENTER, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: That means your immune response is working for you. You should feel good about that and it shouldn't really be any difficulty coming back for that second shot knowing that you're now in a much better position to fight off this awful virus.

GUPTA (Voice over): Yasir is confident that his choice is helping pave the way to a better tomorrow.

BATALVI: So I put my name down because I just -- I felt so helpless. It's public service. I have to do it because I think mass scale vaccination is really the only realistic way out of the pandemic that we're in.

GUPTA (Voice over): Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.


BLACKWELL: Up next, the Supreme Court has rejected a lawsuit that tried to block millions of votes. It effectively ends President Trump's legal efforts to overturn the election.



(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WALKER: In a major blow to the Trump administration, the Supreme Court has rejected a lawsuit that tried to block millions of ballots in four battleground states. It is the strongest legal defeat yet, showing President Trump has zero chance of overturning the election.

BLACKWELL: Despite that, the president tweeted this, "Many others likewise joined the suit, but within a flash, it is thrown out and gone without even looking at the many reasons it was brought. A rigged election. Fight on." Well, Twitter has flagged these tweets with, "This claim about election fraud is disputed."

WALKER: Meanwhile, the Electoral College is set to meet Monday to confirm Biden's victory and the big question is will Republicans accept the results and move forward or continue to discredit the outcome?

Joining us now to discuss is CNN political commentator and host of "You Decide" podcast, Errol Louis. Errol, good morning to you. Thanks for joining us. So legally, apparently it is the end of the road for President Trump, but that doesn't mean that he's going to stop undermining the fact that Joe Biden won even though it's to the detriment of the Republican Senate candidates here in Georgia.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's to the -- it's to -- it's going to cause problems not just for those candidates, Amara, it's going to cause problems for the Republican Party generally. Four years ago when Trump was elected, Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. Two years later, they lost control of the lower house, they now have lost control of the White House and it remains to be seen whether they're going to lose the Senate as well.

Donald Trump has led his party and many of its members over a cliff politically speaking. The fact that people continue to follow him over that cliff is a little bit of a mystery, but the reality is Democrats, in some ways, should be thanking him for creating such turmoil and irrationality that so many members of the Republican party seem to want to go along with that voters are just rejecting it every time they get a chance.

WALKER: Yes. I mean, 126 Republican members of the House willing to go over the cliff, as you mentioned, with President Trump signing on to this legal brief, hoping and baselessly trying to overturn the election results in four battleground states. Just how dangerous is that move and extraordinary that the majority of the Republicans in this chamber join the president in this brazen move?

LOUIS: Yes. Twitter was being kind. The claims that were made in that lawsuit and that are made on Twitter and elsewhere by the president are not just disputed, they're trash. They're nonsense, they're nonexistent. It was a garbage lawsuit. It was a junk lawsuit that the Supreme Court never really seriously considered because there was nothing there to consider.

And for 126 members of Congress to ignore their oaths of office, to play along with this kind of foolishness sets a dangerous precedent, Amara, because what it suggests is that there the governing style of the Republican party is going to be if we don't get what we want, we will just attack the legitimacy of everything surrounding it and the president is now indicating he's going to attack the legitimacy of the Supreme Court itself, the guardians of our Constitution, the interpreters of the Constitution.

And so that's where we are, that it's simply about power, that there are no principles involved, that this is, let's remember, a Republican party that decided when it was time to make its platform during the convention this year, said, well, we're going to suspend this process and just go along with whatever Trump tells us to do. It's really remarkable.

So, you know, you've got this free-floating ball of political ambition that's not tethered to any real principles. It makes it very hard to see how we're going to govern through this pandemic and it's a shame and it's a shock and it's a real danger to the country.

WALKER: It sure is. And Errol, I have to ask you because the Electoral College meeting on Monday, they are going to formalize the fact that Joe Biden won the presidential election.


What happens then? I mean, do you think the Republicans who have been jumping on the Trump bandwagon with these desperate claims, they're just going to flip a switch and say, OK, Joe Biden indeed has won.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, that's not going to happen. You know, it's simply not going to happen. The people who signed this letter, this amicus brief for the junk lawsuit that was roundly rejected unanimously by the Supreme Court, these are not people who are going to suddenly turn around, remember their oaths of office and start to govern responsibly.

They are again signaling that they're going to number one, do whatever Trump tells them to do, and number two, they're going to create an obstructionist kind of caucus that tries to jam up the very mechanisms of government if they don't get what they want.

It is -- it is remarkably irresponsible. It's absolutely dangerous at the time -- at this time of pandemic, and I think that's what we're going to have to expect when the 117th Congress sits in January.

WALKER: Yes, definitely will show us what is in store for the Biden administration. Errol Louis, appreciate you joining us this morning, thank you.

LOUIS: Thank you.

WALKER: And heads up on our special CNN coverage, Monday, we'll be there for every vote as the electoral college formally confirms Joe Biden's election win. The coverage starts 9:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

BLACKWELL: And coming up in just a few minutes, we're going to talk to a doctor who's preparing for the COVID vaccine rollout. Hear what he's telling his patients.



BLACKWELL: So, if the events of the day go as expected, we're just a few days away from the first coronavirus vaccinations in the United States. So, let's talk about this now with one of the medical professionals who will be administering, we expect some of the vaccines, maybe CNN Medical Analyst and Primary Care Physician, Dr. Saju Mathew. This is not where I wanted to start, but let's start here. Do you expect that you as a family physician will be getting these vaccines or will they be centralized in Georgia, Atlanta specifically?

SAJU MATHEW, PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN: Yes, good question, Victor. Good morning. I'm actually excited. Yes, ambulatory physicians. So, primary care physicians like me are in the phase 1. It's going to be a phased rollout. There will be four phases. Phase one all the way through four, and we are scheduled to get vaccines in January for doctors like myself because I do take care of COVID patients. Remember, when we talk about frontline workers, yes, we are specifically talking about patients that go into the emergency room and emergency room doctors and ICU doctors.

But a good chunk of patients come to see me because remember, 80 percent of COVID patients really have mild to moderate symptoms. So, I'm the doctor that sees these patients. So, I'm excited to roll up my sleeve hopefully in January and get the vaccine.

BLACKWELL: So, let's start with some of the expectations, framing them. I don't want to say set a moderate. I found people yesterday as this was coming down to the last few hours, saying that, well, now, we'll get to go back to concerts and soon, we'll be able to go back to these sporting events and take the masks off. How soon? How long should people wait or expect that that will be reality?

MATHEW: When you think about safety measures or mitigation measures to help curb COVID-19, the way I look at it is, a mask is more of like a surgical effect, say, for instance, a surgeon removes a patient who has an inflamed appendix, the patient feels better immediately, that's sort of the effect with the mask. It's a quick, immediate effect. But with the vaccines, Victor, it could take a while. The reason for that is we really need to remember this, that 80 percent of people have to get the vaccine so that I protect you and you protect me.

Now, the good news about this vaccine is that it's 95 percent effective, but it's also a 100 percent effective in preventing severe COVID disease. So in terms of the death rates, I definitely think that we will see the death rates go down, but it's not going to be immediate. It could be up until March or April, like I said, until 80 percent of Americans get the vaccine to protect each other.

BLACKWELL: Eighty percent of Americans. What about those people who have allergies? MATHEW: So, that's really the point right now with the FDA panelists.

They're pretty much going to exclude four different groups, pregnant women, women that are breastfeeding because we really -- they were not enrolled in the study. And of course, with those two patients that had allergies in England, but remember, they had severe allergies. I think we have to be careful about talking about allergies. Nine out of 10 people who reported penicillin allergy to a primary care doctor like me actually don't have an allergy.

It's more of an insensitivity. But if you have a severe allergy that required an EpiPen, you will be excluded as well. Children under 16 and immunocompromised individuals as well will most likely be excluded from the vaccine.

BLACKWELL: You know, there's been a lot of talk about making sure that after people get the first dose, that they come back three weeks later to get the second one. I wonder if there's a significant concern because big bureaucracies, they miscalculate or make mistakes, that the second dose will be there when someone returns for it in so far that my second dose isn't someone else's first.


MATHEW: Right. I mean, if you look at the first shipment, Victor, which will be about 3 million vaccines that will go out either Monday or Tuesday to so many different cities in the U.S., each governor is going to decide who actually gets the vaccine. Will it be 100 percent healthcare workers, or will it be nursing home residents? But what they're also going to do is they're going to save that second batch of vaccines. So, if you get the first shot, you should be able to go back in three weeks and get that second shot.

There's also this whole debate as to whether instead of giving everybody, a one person, two shots, how about giving everybody one shot and basically get some level of immunity. But the problem with that is, you're only getting 50 percent of protection after the first dose, and 95 percent after that second dose. So, I'm a scientist that believes we should give it on a two-dose basis just like the study indicated. It might be difficult, Victor, but I really think that we are going to be very specific about handing a card and letting them know that you've got to come back in three weeks to get that second shot.

BLACKWELL: Early on in the pandemic, I'm talking, you know, mid-March, there were difficulties for everyday people to get tests, right, but we saw the NBA get tests when they needed them, we saw celebrities get them. Is there any expectation that private industry, that sports leagues, that production companies will be able to purchase or jump the line to get vaccines when there is this rollout that we're seeing or the prioritizations that we're seeing recommended from the CDC and FDA?

MATHEW: You know, I actually had a patient yesterday who's an athlete that asked me that same question. And you know, if you really think about it, you know, Victor, just because of your status, whether you're an athlete or you're a celebrity, in a situation where we have over 3,000 people dying a day and over 200,000 new cases a day, we really should be focusing on the people that are the highest risk. The nursing home residents and the frontline workers. These are the people that really could potentially die if they get COVID.

Now I'm not necessarily suggesting that athletes and celebrities should not get it, but I really think that we should look at the people at the highest risk, and I don't think personally that athletes and celebrities will be permitted to jump the line. I mean, obviously, if you're a VIP person, you are going to get VIP treatment. But let's also not forget, the U.S. only has 100 million vaccine doses of Pfizer initially. Every week it will be ramped up, and maybe Moderna will join the group next week. More players on the field, more vaccines available as well.

BLACKWELL: Yes, and after the numbers we saw on Friday with the record hospitalizations and deaths and new cases, we certainly need some help at least in route. Dr. Saju Mathew, thank you so much.

MATHEW: Thank you.

WALKER: America's game between Army and Navy is this afternoon. And we've got a preview for you on this year's historic showdown. We'll be right back with more.



WALKER: For decades, the Army-Navy football game has traditionally been played at a neutral site, most often in Philadelphia.

BLACKWELL: But because of the pandemic, this rivalry will be played on campus at West Point for the first time since 1943. Let's go to Coy Wire now, he is live there at West Point getting us ready for America's game. Good morning, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS REPORTER: Yes, good morning, Victor and Amara, welcome to West Point. President Trump is scheduled to attend the game today, dating back to 1890. This game is so special, and part of what makes it that way are the people who play in it. Army's Myles Fells grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he witnessed violence, racism, and he was aspired to take a stand, he's one of the leaders on Navy football's newly established council for Racial Equality, and he's doing everything he can to make a positive change in our country. Watch.


MYLES FELLS, NAVY RUNNING BACK: We read all these history books and things, and I hear about people doing brave acts and people were here at the, you know, the Montgomery Marches and the West Point guys, you know, like you always ask yourself, would I have been courageous enough to go out and do those things? And I feel like this is my opportunity to show what type of person that I want to be, not just to myself, but you know, to my kids, to my friends, to my community, to my family. Hey, if something is not right, I'm going to be the one who is going

to speak, I want to stand up for that. Being in the military puts me in a really, you know, good position to be able to take the voices I hear from back home and echo those to people that want to where they're not present.

KEN NIUMATALOLO, NAVY HEAD COACH: We had team meetings about it, you know, very candid meetings. You know, players spoke about their feelings, black players, white players.

FELLS: It was everybody opening up their perspective and being able to like, see, you know, something that may be contrary to what they grew up believing year-and-year. And that was huge. And you know, some people had a change of heart. I'm like hey, what I'm thinking isn't right. You know, this is -- there are people that's actually struggling.

This isn't just -- you know, on the news, this is happening to people that I love, and I care for, and that's why hit home so much was because we're a family. We've been through so much together. Going to the school playing football, and when you see, it's your brother out there struggling, it makes it ten times more real for you, and it makes it personal. And that's what we needed.



WIRE: You know, it is not by accident that these young men and women are some of the most inspiring people you'll ever met. It's commitment, meeting a moment. Today's Army-Navy game highlights some of our nation's brightest young leaders like Myles Fells. The game is at 3:00 p.m. Eastern.

BLACKWELL: Absolutely, important voice. Thanks for bringing it to us. Coy, thanks so much.

WALKER: All right, still to come, tons of dry ice will be needed to ship the COVID vaccines. What dry ice makers are doing to meet the demand?



WALKER: For many, this time of year is about giving back. The 14th annual "CNN HEROES" all-star tribute salutes the people who put others first throughout this turbulent year. The star-studded show airs this Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been a year of challenges and change, but it's also been a year of hope. This year's "CNN HEROES" is a celebration of everyday people doing extraordinary acts. During two of the biggest stories of 2020. Join Anderson Cooper, Kelly Ripa and celebrity guests.

KELLY RIPA, ACTRESS & TALK-SHOW HOST: Tonight, is about hope. It's about decency and it's about compassion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And a salute to the people who keep our spirits lifted.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to see the world differently.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anyone can have an impact no matter their age.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Plus, the viewers' choice for this year's most inspiring moment. And a special musical performance by Tony, Grammy and Emmy winner Cynthia Erivo. "CNN HEROES", an all-star tribute, Sunday at 8:00 on CNN.


BLACKWELL: Looking forward to it. All right, we all know that the vaccine has to be kept in extremely cold temperatures, and in order to do that, you need dry ice.

WALKER: You sure do. So, the people at western Washington who manufacture, process and distribute dry ice are scrambling to make more and have it distributed around the world. CNN Affiliate Reporter, Gary Horcher has more.


GARY HORCHER, REPORTER, KIRO 7 (on camera): Well, you talk about extreme cold in here, the dry ice capsules you see here, these pellets, 109 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. That is enough to freeze your skin on contact if I'm not wearing gloves, this would be really dangerous. But it will take literally tons of this to deliver the ultra-cold Pfizer vaccine around the world. There has never been more demand in history for a product to save lives.

(voice-over): It's a chilling industry you probably never considered before, but very soon, with the promise of a vaccine, which must be kept at 94 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, all of our lives will depend on the heavy-lifting from the men and women who have quietly made, cut, and shoveled tons of solid carbon dioxide. Reliant Dry Ice Manager Caleb Stone has been around the dry ice business, but he never imagined the sudden critical role dry ice will play in keeping the vaccines stable and safe for deliveries to millions of people waiting to resume their normal lives.

CALEB STONE, MANAGER, RELIANT DRY ICE: Delivering to hospitals, delivering to medical clinics and things like that is something that we're used to.

HORCHER: But dry ice is constantly fogging itself back into a gas, so 10 pounds of dry ice literally disappears within 24 to 36 hours. That's why it will take a lot of fresh dry ice to keep the vaccine stable during transport and storage. STONE: It's an honor to be a part of it, and we're just taking one

step at a time. There are still a lot of unknowns, but my phone has been ringing off the hook. I've been getting a lot of e-mails, a lot more than usual.

HORCHER: The demand on this industry to save our state and our country will be historic, and Caleb says they're ready.

STONE: We want to be that spoke in that wheel that helps protect lives.

HORCHER: He says it might take more workers to keep up, but they won't know every detail about the staggering need until the vaccines are here.

STONE: And we're just hard-working guys who are wanting to do our part to help in that.


BLACKWELL: Our thanks to CNN affiliate reporter Gary Horcher reporting for us there. And Amara, there are so many elements that have to come together just perfectly for this to work out. And we have a professor from Yale coming up a little later this morning who talks about the impact of any stumbles, any mistakes in the confidence in people taking this vaccine across the country, really cannot be overstated how impactful those will be.

WALKER: You're right. Yes, there are so many logistical challenges as was pointed out there. And as we know, this is an unprecedented rollout on a scale that we've really never seen before. And now that the FDA has given the emergency use authorization, we know that now the movement begins of getting all the supplies to where they need to go. And again, it's just a monumental task of all these airplanes --


WALKER: And delivery companies getting together to get the vaccines where they need to be.

BLACKWELL: Absolutely. And now, coming up, we've got CNN exclusive interview with the CEO of BioNTech, Pfizer's partner in the development of the coronavirus. The next hour of your NEW DAY starts right now.