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Hala Gorani Tonight
President Biden Speaks On Vaccines As FDA Gives Pfizer Vaccine Full Approval; U.S. And Coalition Aircraft Evacuate 16,000 People In 24 Hours; Officials: G7 Leaders To Press Biden On Extending Troop Withdrawal Date. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired August 23, 2021 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nationwide cases are still rising, especially among the unvaccinated. Across the country, virtually
all the COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths continue to be among the unvaccinated. That`s worse in states where vaccinations rates are overall
But even in states where many people are vaccinated, the unvaccinated are still at risk. And let me be clear, there are cases where vaccinated people
do get COVID-19, but they are far less common than unvaccinated people getting COVID-19. And most importantly, their conditions are far less
The overwhelming majority of people in the hospital with COVID-19 and almost all those dying from COVID-19 are not vaccinated, not vaccinated. If
you`re fully vaccinated, both shots plus two weeks, your risk of severe illness from COVID-19 is very low. And I know that parents are concerned
about COVID-19 cases among their children.
I`ll be addressing this soon with Secretary Cardona to discuss how we get our kids back to school safely. Cases among children are still rare and
severe cases among children are very rare. But I know that parents are thinking about their own kids.
It`s not as reassuring as anyone would like it to be. So, let me say this as a parent to the parents, as you have -- you have the tools. You have the
tools to keep your child safer. And two of those tools, above all, are available to you. One, make sure that everyone around your child who can be
vaccinated is vaccinated.
Parents, adults, teens. Two, make sure your child is masked when they leave home. That`s how we can best keep our kids safe. As I`ve said before, the
pandemic of the unvaccinated is a tragedy that is preventable. People are dying and will die who don`t have to.
So, please, if you haven`t gotten your vaccination, if you haven`t gotten vaccinated, do it now. You could save your life and the lives of those you
love. Now, the good news is that people are getting vaccinated. For the past several weeks, my administration has imposed new vaccine requirements
on federal workers, on the armed forces, people working in federal medical facilities and nursing home workers. Governors, mayors and private
secretary leaders have done the same. We`ve also encouraged new incentives. For example, in some states, you get $100 if you get vaccinated.
These new requirements and incentives are accelerating vaccinations once again, giving us the hope that we can put this Delta variant behind us in
the weeks ahead. There are three facts everyone should know about, where we are in this fight against this pandemic. First, even as the Delta variant
has ravaged the unvaccinated, the deaths have climbed.
The death rate is still 70 percent lower than it was last Winter. Why? Because we did such a good job vaccinating those most at risk. Senior
citizens. America has about 54 million senior citizens. About 50 million have gotten at least one shot. That`s almost 92 percent.
Secondly, overall weekly new vaccinations are up more than 56 percent from where they were a month ago. Last week, we saw a record of vaccinations.
More than 1 million shots a day for three state -- for three straight days. This is the first time this has happened since June.
Six million shots in the last seven days, the highest seven-day total in over a month and a half. Remember when we were trying to get 70 percent of
the people over 18 at least one shot? Well, we`ve not only gotten that done, we`ve gotten 71 percent of everyone aged 12 and older their first
shot. That`s over 200 million Americans and over 170 million are now fully vaccinated.
Third, states, that have been lagging are seeing their vaccination rates grow faster. In fact, in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, more
people got new vaccinations in the past month than in the prior two months combined. The progress we`re making on vaccinations now is going to produce
results in the weeks ahead. The sooner you get fully vaccinated, the sooner you`ll be protected.
According to the experts from the Yale School of Public Health, the pace of our vaccination effort has saved over 100,000 lives, and it prevented more
than 450,000 hospitalizations. This is critical progress. Well, we need to move faster. As I mentioned before, I`ve imposed vaccination requirements
that will reach millions of Americans.
Today, I`m calling on more countries -- and more companies, I should say, in the private sector, to step up with vaccine requirements that will reach
millions more people. If you`re a business leader, a non-profit leader, a state or local leader who has been waiting for full FDA approval to require
vaccinations, I call on you now to do that. Require it.
Do what I did last month, require your employees to get vaccinated or face strict requirements. And as I said last week, vaccination requirements have
been around for decades. Students, healthcare professionals, our troops are typically required to receive vaccinations, prevent everything from polio
to smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella. In fact, the reason most people in America are not worried about polio, smallpox, measles, mumps and rubella
today is because of vaccines. It only makes sense to require a vaccine to stop the spread of COVID-19.
With today`s FDA full approval, there`s another good reason to get vaccinated. So, please get vaccinated now. If you go to vaccines.com,
vaccines.com or text your zip code to 438829, you can find a number of vaccine sites near you just minutes away where you can get your shot
without an appointment.
All around the world, people want these vaccines. Here in America, they`re free, convenient and waiting for you. So, please go today for yourself, for
your loved ones, for your neighbors, for your country. I`ll close with this. We`re in a midst of a war-time effort to beat this pandemic.
It`s one of the biggest and most complicated challenges in our history. And it`s based on an unparalleled vaccination program that is saving lives and
beating this virus. It`s a vaccination program that`s getting us back to our loved ones and a way of life we were used to. It`s happening, and it`s
going to keep happening.
It helps our economy and gets everything moving. It keeps us growing. Together, we`ve made significant progress in just seven months. We just
have to finish the job with science, with facts and confidence. Together as the United States of America.
So, please get vaccinated today. God bless you all and may God protect our troops. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only American left in Afghanistan, Mr. President --
LYNDA KINKADE, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: You`ve been watching U.S. President Joe Biden there, saying that the Food and Drug Administration has now given
full approval for Pfizer`s coronavirus vaccine. I`m Lynda Kinkade, and we`re going to continue on this story. Dr. Jayne Morgan joins us now here
in Atlanta. She`s the executive director of Piedmont Healthcare`s Coronavirus Task Force. Good to have you with us.
JAYNE MORGAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PIEDMONT HEALTHCARE CORONAVIRUS TASKFORCE: Thank you, nice to be here today.
KINKADE: So, we just heard the U.S. president there, and he referenced the fact that over the last week, there has been a record number of people get
the shot here in the U.S. 6 million people -- 6 million shots in seven days, he said. That`s the highest in a month and a half. What does today`s
FDA approval mean for the Pfizer vaccine and those who may still be hesitant to get a shot?
MORGAN: You know, I certainly think as we look at the Kaiser Family Foundation data where three out of ten of these fence sitters are expected
to come down from that fence now that we have full FDA approval. They are waiting something that provides additional confidence and empowerment in
the system. And so, I don`t think that it will move the needle a large amount, but certainly, there will be some percentage of those fence sitters
that come off the fence. It certainly empowers corporations, organizations, federal establishments to begin to mandate this vaccine with confidence.
And therefore, we also have a greater impact and a greater reach to our citizenry to get vaccinated via our corporate responsibility as well.
KINKADE: You know, Dr. Morgan, I wanted to ask you about that because we did hear the U.S. president encouraging companies to ensure that their
employees are vaccinated. We have seen more and more companies here in the U.S. as well as organizations around the world mandating vaccines.
Obviously, here at CNN, it`s mandated. Facebook, Google, Twitter, Morgan Stanley. Do you think we`re likely to see more companies, more
organizations, mandate it now that we have this full approval from the FDA?
MORGAN: You know, absolutely. I think we`re going to increasingly see more and more and more companies move to provide an absolutely safe environment,
as safe as possible for all of their employees to return to work and feel comfortable that they can come to work and not bring anything home,
especially to their children who are under 12 years of age. This full FDA approval is the same as all of the other prescribed medications in your
medicine cabinet. This is exactly the same with this FDA approval. And that provides confidence to quite a few people.
I think we will see an uptick in vaccines, but I think we also will see this being led by corporations, federal agencies and organizations who
begin to make it a requirement as a term of your employment.
KINKADE: And now, today`s approval was for vaccinations for people over the age of 16. Currently here in the U.S., emergency use is available for
anyone as young as 12, as far as I understand it. How long do you think it will be until we see full approval for children?
MORGAN: So, the children was -- the children dossier was submitted in May. And so, it`s about four to five months behind -- or I hate to use the word
"behind", but on a different timeline than the adult submission. And so, I think we should expect perhaps November or December. Certainly, what we`re
seeing with the FDA is this all hands-on-deck and they are understanding their urgency and the importance of getting this done and engendering
confidence of the American citizens.
So, I think we should expect to see that in November and December. Those trials, as well as the trials of children as well for Moderna and Pfizer,
the FDA did ask them to expand some of their enrollment to make it a bit more robust so they could look at more data.
And so, I still think however we will be on a timeline of November and December. But don`t forget, it`s available under emergency use
authorization for all ages, 12 and older, and we still should absolutely move forward with getting these vaccines. We should have a lot of
confidence in the safety, the efficacy and the review process of these vaccines.
KINKADE: Exactly, and as the U.S. president again reiterated, this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated, certainly in countries where the vaccine is
widely available. Dr. Jayne Morgan, good to have you with us. Thanks so much for your time today.
MORGAN: Thank you very much.
KINKADE: We are going to take a quick break. We`re going to have the very latest from Afghanistan in just a moment. Stay with us. You`re watching
KINKADE: Welcome back. Now to Afghanistan where the clock is ticking. The Taliban insisting that all U.S. forces must be out of the country by the
end of this month. The Pentagon says U.S. and coalition aircraft evacuated 16,000 people from Kabul airport in just the last 24 hours from Sunday into
Monday. But if the American forces securing the airport leave on August 31st, the future of the evacuation operation is in major doubt.
This means that tens of thousands of Afghans who feel in danger and want to leave could be left behind. G7 leaders are expected to urge U.S. President
Joe Biden to extend that August 31st deadline during a virtual summit on Tuesday. And it comes as the security situation at the airport seems to be
getting worse. A sniper shot and killed a member of the Afghan security forces on Monday. Four Afghan civilians were wounded in the resulting fire
fight. Well, during a briefing today, Pentagon officials were pressed by reporters on whether the evacuation deadline could be extended.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KIRBY, PRESS SECRETARY, PENTAGON: The mission that we`ve been given, Tom, is to conduct this drawdown by the 31st of August.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait, if the airport is secure, you could continue into September, couldn`t you?
KIRBY: That is -- that`s a decision that the president, commander-in-chief would have to make. Our mission right now -- we have to talk about what
we`re doing now, Tom, and what our focus is. And that`s on getting this completed by the 31st of August.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: Well, CNN`s Sam Kiley is at the center of this story. He filed this report from the tarmac at Kabul international airport.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Here at Kabul international airport, they`re down to the last roughly 10,000
evacuees, down from a peak of 20,000. But following a State Department announcement and confirmation, the special immigrant visa holders, people
who have been given the paperwork to travel to the United States, will no longer be admitted for the foreseeable future. These could be among the
last getting out to safety. There are a number of aircraft here lined up, Royal Air Force, Lufthansa(ph) and a strategic air command all ready to
take them out.
There are also many thousands, of course, still trapped inside Kabul, a city that last night was wracked with more violence with the first known
attack on the airport here with a sniper who opened fire and killed a member of the Afghan National Army. Four others were wounded from the
Afghan National Army in an exchange of fire, an accidental exchange of fire with coalition forces. This amid the tensions of a continuing threat from
the so-called Islamic State. Sam Kiley, CNN, Kabul international airport.
KINKADE: More with the latest on the evacuation efforts, I want to go to CNN`s Nick Paton Walsh who is in Doha, Qatar. Good to have you with us,
Nick. So, we did hear from the Pentagon that 16,000 people have been evacuated in 24 hours, a huge effort. But certainly many more people
needing help. Talk to us about the security situation right now.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Well, I mean, we have known that it`s been volatile for a matter of days. Really, since it`s
began back Tuesday when I was in the airport, you could hear gunfire around the outskirts. But it was today I think that the first life was lost by
aggressive gunfire, the sniper that killed the Afghan security force and ended up with four injured in the cross-fire with Marines who mistook the
Afghans returning fire as an attack on them.
But it`s clearly part of a general deterioration of what American officials are referring to as a persistent threat from ISIS around that area. But all
this, something of a distraction from the large task in hand. It`s been an extraordinarily good day for the United States evacuation operation to get
16,000 people off that airport, about 11,000 of those just in American hands, is an extraordinary feat, quite remarkable. And it`s brought the
total down to about 13,000 or so who are still on the airport, which is still a task that probably requires another day at that particular pace.
But does suggest that they`re able possibly to start reducing the numbers on the base. So, the question is, who next gets taken out and how long does
this go on for? As you heard Sam say there, SIV applicants, allied Afghans who have the right most likely to go and live in America because they`ve
worked with the Americans, helping told not to go, and that was a policy that was put in at this point because they`re focusing on U.S., NATO,
citizens and green card holders. So, that`s a pause there, it may change because it does appear that they are able to get a lot of people off, and
therefore they might be able to bring those SIV applicants on, if they can.
Open up the gates to the airports safely and avoid crowds crushing, we`ve seen before, and if they can get those applicants through the Taliban check
points that lead up towards the airport. Big "ifs" certainly. And we`re also hearing too from senior State Department officials that there may be
several thousand more American citizens possibly after the several thousand who have been brought to the airport that may need rescuing. So, it`s an
indefinite sort of number of Americans there which I think they`re going to have to begin to explain a little bit more clearly.
Some denial at the Pentagon that there were SIV applicants, being refused entry, sort of quite loose choice of words by John Kirby, suggesting that
they might be processed at the gates and they`re being considered for entry. But to me, it`s quite clear that they`re not being allowed on at
this stage because the gates are closed. Some are sneaking on through unofficial means, possibly coordinates with Afghan security forces. It`s a
mess. There`s no such thing as a hard and fast policy there. But it does appear that the U.S. has been focusing on their own citizens.
So, how much longer does this go on for? That is fundamentally the question that has to be asked. The American troops there, nearly 6,000 probably got
two or three days of work of packing themselves up to leave if they want to be out before August the 31st.
So, we may be into the last three or four days if that presumption about how long it takes them to leave is correct, in which the United States can
think about evacuating people. How many? Where from? How do they get to the base? For the first time, the Pentagon today said that they were going out
to get Americans from parts of Kabul.
They wouldn`t go into details, but it`s a suggestion, perhaps, that some of the U.S. are involved in looking for Americans, rather than getting them to
come on their own steam. But it does seem that, that element of things may not be going on forever.
And so, fundamentally, the pressure will be on, I think Joe Biden, tomorrow by his G7 counterparts to debate whether they extend that 31st deadline.
It`s pretty clear the Taliban consider them absolute red line. I would very much doubt that the U.S. would want to stay past the deadline and it impose
on itself and risk potential rough of the Taliban.
So, we are now into a vital sort of six-day window almost in which they have to get themselves out and anybody else who they feel they want to get
out in this first sort of initial evacuation wave which they say will continue in the months down the line through different means. But the clock
is seriously ticking, Lynda.
KINKADE: Yes, that deadline rapidly approaching. Nick Paton Walsh for us, good to have you on this story. Thank you. Well, the chaos at Kabul airport
is preventing humanitarian aid from getting to those who need it most. The World Health Organization says 500 tons of medical supplies that were due
to be delivered this week and now stuck because of flight restrictions.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 18 million Afghans are already in need of dire assistance and it could get worse. The IRC says
the number of people internally displaced by conflict in Afghanistan has soared by 53 percent since the start of August.
Well, leaders of the G7 are said to hold a virtual meeting on Tuesday to discuss the crisis in Afghanistan. And officials say they`re expected to
press U.S. President Biden on extending the withdrawal deadline next week. The Taliban has made it clear that`s not an option.
CNN global affairs analyst Aaron David Miller joins me now to discuss this further. Good to see you, Aaron. Certainly, a lot to discuss here. U.S.
President Biden of course has said that this was always going to be painful and hard, and he said that`s just a fact. Did it have to be this chaotic?
AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, that -- we could spend the next hour answering that question. I think the short answer is
no. I can`t remember the last time a withdrawal from a good or bad war took place with efficiency and precision. Nonetheless, I think it`s quite clear
that the idea of withdrawal made a lot of sense.
I think it was the right move after 20 years. The process of withdrawal is another matter. Time became an adversary, not an ally. I suppose that the
administration decided to go beyond its initial and self-imposed deadline, maintain American forces, keep Bagram open, securing the airport.
They could have used the last or the next five, six, seven months to try to create a more orderly process of withdrawal. It`s just the prospect of
withdrawing with or without the consent of the former government of Afghanistan. What might be as many as 80,000 to 100,000 Afghan nationals
who are under the SIVs program, including their families, are under threat and needed to be evacuated. The process of doing that would have required
much more time than the Biden administration has allowed.
So, now the issue is, what can they do by August 31st? I mean, I don`t think you have to be a genius to do the math. I mean, you`ve got thousands
of Americans, NATO citizens, green card holders that are first priority. Then you have all of the SIV applicants, plus you have, you know, hundreds
if not thousands at the airport who aren`t SIV.
I don`t see how the president makes good on his commitment. Withdraw, extricate all American citizens, yes. But in nine days or eight days, seven
days, including the withdrawal of all American forces from the Kabul airport, making good on that commitment to the Afghan allies who sacrificed
and their families who are now vulnerable to retaliation and imprisonment or worse from the Taliban, I don`t see how that happens without extending -
KINKADE: Yes --
MILLER: The -- that basically opens the question, and we don`t -- neither you nor I know the answer to the question of what is actually going on with
respect to negotiations between the administration and the Taliban with Russian -- apparently, the Russians who put themselves forward as mediators
as well. So, we`ve known the answer to that.
KINKADE: Well, we don`t know the answer to that, but I`m wondering if you can tell me the answer to how much leverage the U.S. has in those talks,
because we are hearing from the Pentagon that they are in regular talks with the Taliban.
MILLER: You know, leverage is only good if, in fact, the people you`re trying to leverage are interested in what it is you have. And that raises
the question whether or not this is Taliban 1.0, 2.0 or 3.0. You`re going to see a pretty good test to this. If the Taliban is not prepared to give
the administration time and space to evacuate its own nationals, and is literally prepared to respond if by the 31st, all American combat forces
are not out of Afghanistan, I think the answer is going to be pretty clear.
I think it would be a mistake on the part of the Taliban to challenge this administration when it comes to the security of American citizens because
right now, given the dysfunction and the incompetence displayed with respect to the withdrawal process, this administration has every stake in
being as tough as it possibly can be, even to the expense of additional combat in Afghanistan in defense of extricating American citizens.
KINKADE: Aaron, we know that U.S. President Biden is going to virtually meet with G7 leaders tomorrow. And we are hearing that the British Prime
Minister Boris Johnson is expected to pressure the U.S. president to try to extend that withdrawal deadline of August 31st. How do you see those talks
playing out? What do you see will happen?
MILLER: Well, no amount of reassurances it seems to me are answers. President Biden`s answers to questions are going to reassure our allies.
You know, he talked and I understand, America is back. We`re back. We`re at the head of the table. Well, the reality is the gap between those words and
our performance is Grand Canyon-like.
Nonetheless, I don`t see what stake Boris Johnson or any of the other G7 members have in engaging in a set of mutual recrimination at a time when --
even with all of these tensions, particularly with the U.K., the Brits, who have -- who have deployed the second greatest number of forces and second
greatest number of casualties other than the United States. What is to be gained by showing G7 --
KINKADE: Aaron David Miller, we`re just going to have to interrupt you. I`m going to go live to the White House now for a press conference to listen in
to Jake Sullivan.
JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER, UNITED STATES: Persecution or worse. In the last 24 hours alone, 28 U.S. military flights have evacuated
approximately 10,400 people from Kabul. In addition, 61 coalition aircraft have evacuated approximately 5,900 additional people. That is more than
16,000 people in 24 hours, and the flights are continuing hour-by-hour as we speak.
We have established a network of transit centers in multiple countries, in the Gulf, in Europe, where we are getting U.S. citizens on flights home and
we are running biometric and biographic background checks on Afghan evacuees before bringing them to the United States or having them relocated
to a third country.
All told, 26 countries on four continents are contributing to this effort, one of the largest air-lifts in history. A massive military, diplomatic,
security, humanitarian undertaking. A testament to the power and purpose of the United States and our allies. I want to provide an update on American
We`ve helped thousands of Americans leave Kabul already. We`ve contacted Americans still in Afghanistan by e-mail, by phone, by text, to give them
specific instructions. We have developed a method to safely and efficiently transfer groups of American citizens onto the airfield.
For operational reasons, I`m not going to go into further detail on this.