Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

White House Says, J&J will not have Significant Effect on Overall Vaccine Supply; Second Night of Unrest after Police Killing of Daunte Wright. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired April 13, 2021 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[13:00:01]

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: They're pausing so that they can look at it more carefully.

REPORTER: A couple for Dr. Fauci, please? It's great to see you back at the podium, Dr. Fauci.

Given that the impacted patients were all women between the ages of 18 and 48, should women under 50 be excluded from getting the J&J vaccine?

FAUCI: The question you're asking gets back to several questions here. That's the reason why the CDC and the FDA want to take a look at this and say, are there some categories now where people outside of that categories don't have any of the factors, so it will be okay to go on. It is entirely conceivable, making no predictions, that there may be some restriction in an age group or not. We don't know that now. That's the reason why they're working very hard to answer the question you're asking.

REPORTER: And what's your medical advice for people who have recently received the J&J vaccine and may be concerned about blood clots?

FAUCI: Well, I mean, if someone recently, within days, I would tell them to just, first of all, don't get an anxiety reaction because, remember, it's less than one in a million. However, having said that, pay attention. Do you have symptoms, headache? Do you have shortness of breath, chest discomfort, do you have anything that resembles a neurological syndrome? And, obviously, if you have something as serious as a seizure, that's pretty clear.

But the manifestations of this are that, headache is the very common component of it because the sinus thrombosis that they have is the draining of the blood and the brain and it would cause enough symptomology to make you notice it. Just tell people to just watch out for not feeling very well.

REPORTER: And one for Jeff. Officials from different states told us this morning that they were really caught off guard by this announcement. They were ready the put shots into people's arms and had to scramble. Can you explain that chain of communication, when and how did you notify states that they might have to pause?

JEFFREY ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Right. Well, as I said, we didn't know about anything in terms of the announcement until last night and we didn't even know the content of the announcement until this morning when everyone else read it. As soon as we got that, our team farmed out and started contacting folks to make sure that everyone knew that that was announced by the FDA and CDC.

Tuesday is the day I have my regular governors call. So that was fortunate that that was at 11:00 A.M. We had the governors already lined up with their teams and we had Dr. Fauci and Dr. Walensky join that call. And the teams will continue to support the statewide efforts, the federal channels, the community health centers to make the adjustments.

So I think the message got out clearly and quickly. There was no heads-up here. The announcement was made this morning.

REPORTER: Thank you.

PHIL MATTINGLY, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Thanks guys, just a few quick ones. First of all, and I don't know if you have the answer to this, do we have a timeline in terms of how long this is going to -- are we talking days before it might get flipped get back on or a week?

And then second for Jeff, if you don't mind. I understand what you're saying on the macro level related to supply, but when you talk to local officials, the J&J shot, because of storage, because of one shot, is considered a crucial component in rural areas and underserved communities. How does that not affect the timeline that you guys are on in terms of actually getting shots in arms?

FAUCI: During one of the questions which was asked, I believe, of the CDC, the question was just yours, and I don't know what they're going to be doing. What I heard from the previous press discussion was it's going to be more like days to weeks rather than weeks to months.

ZIENTS: We have plenty of supply and we have plenty of vehicles for delivering that supply, whether it's through the federal pharmacy channel, whether it's mobile units, community health centers and all of those are equipped to deliver the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine. So we'll make sure that those units continue to grow in number because you're right, we need to reach people where they are in the mobile units and the community health centers which are particularly essential for those. And they have been receiving Moderna and Pfizer doses since we began both those programs.

MATTINGLY: It's no different. You just swap out the vaccine, if it was a mass vaccination center or if it was a mobile unit going to a rural area. ZIENTS: Yes. Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, as you know, are two-dose vaccines. So it's important for people to come back for their second dose, three weeks post their first dose of Pfizer and four weeks post their first dose of Moderna. But all of our units, all of our delivery channels are equipped to deliver both Pfizer and Moderna.

MATTINGLY: Real quick, how does this not contribute the very areas where hesitancy is most predominant at this point in time, based on what you guys have seen, do you have to change your message, do you have to do something different to address hesitancy in a way there's something --

ZIENTS: I think we need to continue to be transparent about what the science is telling us.

[13:05:03]

That's what brings us here today. As Dr. Fauci said, there's been tens of millions of doses of Pfizer and Moderna administered over the last several months and millions of people, both in the U.S. and around the world, have been safely vaccinated.

I think it's important that, you know, we have here the FDA and the FDA is the gold standard for ensuring safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. And today's action, I think, is clear evidence that they're taking every step necessary to ensure the American people have clear and transparent information about the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines.

So, the bottom line is the vaccines, Moderna and Pfizer, that are now being administered, are clearly safe and are saving lives, and every American should get vaccinated when it's their turn.

REPORTER: Thanks. Jeff, is the -- is J&J production going to continue during this pause, and, secondly, is the Biden administration considering ordering more doses of Pfizer and Moderna given -- in just in case this problem with J&J becomes prolonged?

ZIENTS: So, the J&J production issues in Baltimore, obviously, completely separate set of issues and those are being worked out through the FDA process with the company. And production of those vaccines can begin if and when the FDA authorizes that facility.

Your second question was, we really have thought of this as a wartime effort from the beginning, which is why we purchased excess supply so we'd be ready for any contingency and we'll continue to look at every possibility in terms of making sure that we always have enough supply for the American people.

REPORTER: So just to clarify on the J&J production, not related to the Baltimore plant, just overall J&J production, is that going to pause while this pause on administering doses occurs or is the production going to continue?

ZIENTS: Well, the production is really centered around that Baltimore facility. The vast majority of the production is that Baltimore facility.

REPORTER: I just want to -- Jeff, I want to just ask you very directly, are you ruling out the possibility that the vaccine could be removed from the market? I mean, are you ruling out that -- are you expecting it to be re-allowed?

FAUCI: You know, I think it would be premature to comment on that, and that's the reason why the pause was done, so that they could take a good look at it, very carefully look at every, if, in fact -- I wouldn't want to speculate as to what would happen often when you see things like this, that you pause and come back. Whether or not that happens now, I can't guarantee it but I can tell you that's exactly what the CDC and FDA people are going to be deciding on and looking at very carefully.

REPORTER: If I could just ask you on this outreach question. So, you know, this is a problem that you've been struggling with, the sort of vaccine hesitancy. This obviously is a setback. What do you have to sort of ramp up into an additional war-type effort to really ensure that this message gets out there? Do you personally go to states like Mississippi where the vaccination rate is really low?

ZIENTS: Let me answer your first question. You know, we -- consistent with it being a wartime effort, we plan for different scenarios of contingencies. So we have enough supply of Moderna and Pfizer to hit the targets that we've set, the 200 million shots in 100 days, and to head toward the 4th of July that we've talked about as a country, more normal 4th of July. Clearly, part of that is making sure that when it's an American's turn to get vaccinated, they get vaccinated and we do need to continue to build confidence. And that's done at the community level.

People are trusting of their local doctors, their faith leaders, their neighbors. which is why it's important when people do get vaccinated, they not only get themselves vaccinated but they spread the word about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines.

REPORTER: Just a (INAUDIBLE) down there. One of the goals that you haven't mentioned today is the hope that there would be enough supply on hand for the country by the end of May. Is that still operative now in the wake of this pause?

And the second question is, it's a bit surprising to learn you only yourself learned about this this morning. Do you wish you had heard sooner?

ZIENTS: Yes. I learned about it last night that there would be an announcement, the specifics of the announcement, because that's to the science and we want the science agencies to lead with science and there's no reason for us to be involved in any of the scientific decisions. We bring nothing to the table. That is the FDA's role, that is the CDC's role. And they're led by terrific leaders with great teams to do the science and this administration would be led by science.

And as to your first question, we believe that there's enough vaccination -- there's vaccine in the system, Moderna and Pfizer, for all Americans who want to get vaccinated by May 31st to do so.

[13:10:07]

REPORTER: Jeff, I feel like we're dancing around the hesitancy question here, and so I'd just ask you directly. Do you think the announcement of this pause will increase or decrease vaccine hesitancy?

ZIENTS: Look, hesitancy amongst a group of people is a challenge and we need to be addressing it, and we are, as I talked about, by going to meet people where they are, to follow all that we've learned about who people trust, doctor, local doctor, their nurse, their faith leader. And I think that, you know, there's tremendous track record, as Dr. Fauci has talked about, with tens of millions of doses of Pfizer and Moderna.

The FDA, acting the way they did today, shows that they are indeed the gold standard and I think that should reassure the American public that they will be very diligent and conservative in how they approach the vaccines.

REPORTER: So the argument is that because the FDA, this trip wire was triggered, that should give Americans more confidence in the overall vaccination plan?

ZIENTS: Certainly around how safety and efficacy are being monitored by the gold standard folks at the FDA.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Let's do three more and then we'll let them go back. Go ahead.

REPORTER: Jeff, you said the FDA is the gold standard for ensuring the safety and efficacy of vaccines. To what extent does today's news add urgency to the effort of getting a permit nominee confirmed to head the FDA? Clearly, it's always an important post, but how much of a spotlight does this news --

ZIENTS: I have no personnel announcement to make today. The FDA has an extraordinary group of scientists and experts that lead these types of efforts.

REPORTER: How helpful would a permanent director be in those efforts?

ZIENTS: I think that the FDA does an extraordinary job, and the teams that are addressing these issues are experienced teams. In fact, the acting director is a very experienced leader, so I would -- I think the experience of the FDA and the expertise of the FDA is, indeed, the gold standard.

PSAKI: Go ahead.

REPORTER: Are there any immediate plans to accommodate mistakes because of this pause and can you guarantee that every person who had a reservation canceled will get rescheduled in a matter of days?

ZIENTS: Yes. As I said, I think there's already in certain locations people who are scheduled for today are already rescheduled. So we'll do anything we can to support the states on the logistics of rescheduling and the same time the most important thing is that the supply exists to continue to vaccinate 3 million Americans a day and there's enough supply to actually accelerate that.

There's tens of millions of doses in the system. And as I said today, we announced 28 million more Moderna and Pfizer doses available to order this week.

PSAKI: Last question.

REPORTER: Dr. Fauci, you said that there was no red flag with the other two vaccines. This question may be asking you to state the obvious, but can you verify that means there were no developments of blood clot symptoms in the recipients of those vaccines?

FAUCI: There have been no serious events to call attention to anything that would relate to a pause.

REPORTER: Why would it be in -- why one vaccine and not the other two and how does that speak to the safety of the other two vaccines?

FAUCI: I think, you know, when you examine everything in general, the fact that you have 120 million doses, and individuals have received at least one dose, and as you subtract out of that 121 million, 6.85, you're talking about 114 or so million individuals have received at least one dose, and no negative red flag signals. That tells you you're dealing with a really safe vaccine.

And I think apropos of several of the questions that people ask about hesitancy, when you want to talk about safety, this is an extraordinary safety record that the others have. And the fact that a pause was done, I think, just is a testimony to how seriously we take safety and why we have an FDA and a CDC that looks at this very carefully. And, hopefully, we'll resolve it pretty soon within days to weeks apropos of your question. So I think it's a very strong argument for safety, actually.

PSAKI: Thank you, Dr. Fauci, thank you, Jeff.

ZIENTS: Thank you. Thank you, everybody.

PSAKI: Thank you.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Ana Cabrera. I'm going to pick up our breaking news coverage. You've been listening to a briefing at the White House with Chief Medical Adviser to the President Dr. Anthony Fauci and the COVID-19 response coordinator, Jeff Zients.

[13:15:06]

And they addressed today's big news that both the FDA and the CDC are recommending a pause in the use and administration of Johnson & Johnson's COVID vaccine because there are blood clot concerns.

I want to bring in CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Jorge Rodriguez to discuss more about this.

Sanjay, first, to you, what was the most important takeaway from this briefing?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think they gave some justification as to why this pause is happening and laid out a bit of what we've already heard from the FDA and CDC about how frequent this was, what they want to do during this pause, which was two things primarily, see if there's anything that sort of ties these six women between the ages of 18 and 48 together.

And we can put up some of the things that we already know about these women but they want to see, is there something about them that is a common denominator, as Dr. Fauci described? We know that 7 million people have been vaccinated. These are six cases we're talking about. So it really is, actually, less than one in a million that we know of so far, all women between the ages of 18 and 48. And also, their symptoms appeared within two weeks, within 13 days, actually.

The other important thing, I think, as far as the justification for the pause, this is a little bit of a nuanced point, Ana, but Dr. Fauci used this term a few times, called thrombotic thrombocytopenia. It's a big word. But, basically, what it means is the person in the six people in this case developed a blood clot, which typically if you're developing blood clots, you're clotting a lot, but at the same time they had low platelets, which is something that could lead to bleeding.

So you have two almost diametrically opposed problems at the same time. It's because the platelets are all sort of coming and forming that one clot and you actually don't have enough platelets in the rest of the body. The point is you wouldn't want to necessarily to give somebody like that blood thinners because that could worsen the bleeding.

Again, it's a bit of nuanced point but that's a message he wants to get out to clinicians. A lot of time you see a blood clot, you're clotting too much, so give blood thinners, that may not be the right answer here.

So we'll see how this all sort of progresses over the next few days but it sounds like we should -- they should have some sort of decision within a few days.

That's the clot incidentally you're looking at on the screen. That's an example of it. The blue is all the blood vessels that drain blood away from the brain. But sometimes if you get a clot there, then you can't drain blood as well. The patient may get swelling of the brain. That can cause headaches and cause blurred vision, it could even cause seizures in some situations. So that's a lot of what they were sort of driving at, I think, Ana.

CABRERA: And Sanjay hit on this, but let me ask you, Dr. Rodriguez. If you're somebody who has already received this vaccine, and now you're thinking, oh, my goodness, how do I know if I could be, you know, potentially on the road to having a blood clot, what do you need to look for and what should you do?

DR. JORGE RODRIGUEZ, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Actually, that's a great point, because this morning, as soon as I found out this information, I called my three patients that I knew had gotten Johnson & Johnson vaccine over the last week.

And what I told them was that they needed to be aware of, first of all, any change in their state of health and not just a mild change, like Dr. Gupta brought up, any change in your ability to think, any mentation changes, any obviously seizures would be a thing, any prolonged headache. Now, you may get some headaches with the vaccine but something that is highly unusual. And, secondary, any swelling, for example, of your legs, of the extremities or any severe shortness of breath that does not go away.

Now, the key here is extraordinary changes as opposed to the usual symptoms that we may get with the vaccine. And this is something that they need to be aware of for the next couple of weeks. I think Sanjay brought up a good point that clinicians need to be aware that this is associated with low platelets, what we call a thrombocytopenia, something that the regular may not know, but that doctors would know this is something that is associated with a long-term side effect of the J&J vaccine.

CABRERA: I'm glad you were more specific about the type of headache or the type shortness of breath people should be aware of as opposed to the everyday shortness of breath you might get when you walk up a flight of stairs and you get to the top and feel short of breath. And if you've had the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you can see people panicking at that point.

Let's say you've got the vaccine and you've made it two to three weeks post shot, you don't have symptoms, Sanjay, are you in the clear?

GUPTA: It sounds like it. I mean, all we know is these six patients at this point, Ana. So we're sort of learning some of this real-time. And what they -- the reason they came up with this timeframe is that they develop symptoms within that period of time, within 13 days after having received the vaccine.

So we'll see if something else sort of comes out of this investigation that they're going to do over the next few days.

[13:20:01]

But it sounds like if this is some sort of immune reaction, you've given the vaccine, and now as part of the immune reaction that you're getting to make antibodies, that immune reaction is also affecting your platelets, typically that happens pretty quickly.

So, you know, I think that's where they're coming up with this timeframe, but we'll see. That will be a big question when they actually announce their conclusions.

CABRERA: And the doctors both emphasized that there are still two very highly effective and safe vaccines that are continuing to vaccinate people currently with Pfizer and Moderna. They anticipate this pause will be days to weeks as opposed to weeks to months, as they do further investigation.

But vaccine hesitancy is a real issue, and it has been for some time. Dr. Rodriguez, what do you say to people who are hearing this news and they were already hesitant to get a COVID vaccine?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, I think people need to realize that they're in a very unique position where they are actually seeing science in real- time develop. We doctors know that this happens behind the scenes and usually you don't get this information until years in advance. So they're actually seeing how the sausage is being made, and that can be scary at this point. But that should not keep them from going ahead and trying to decrease the greater danger, which is that of COVID.

Also, I think it should be very reassuring that there are hundreds of eyes focused on what is happening with these vaccines, that they are acting very quickly to stop or to slow down any potential danger. I think that should be very reassuring.

CABRERA: Dr. Jorge Rodriguez and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, as always, it's great to have both of you, and thank you for that great information.

We're also following two big stories in Minnesota today, anger filling the streets as protesters clash with police after the shooting death of Daunte Wright. Police say the officer who shot him meant to use a taser instead of a gun. We're expecting a press conference any moment now from the Brooklyn Center mayor. We'll bring that to you.

And there's also, of course, ongoing murder trial of Derek Chauvin happening just a few miles away. Defense attorneys have begun their case today. What's their strategy? What have we learned from the witnesses they've called so far?

Stay with us. I'm Ana Cabrera. You're live in the CNN Newsroom.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:25:00]

CABRERA: We're following two major stories tragically converging right now in Minnesota, outrage and heartbreak in Brooklyn Center over the police shooting death of Daunte Wright. The police chief says he believes the officer meant to use her taser but accidentally fired her gun. That officer has now been identified as Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran of the force who is now on administrative leave. And we are expecting a press conference with the Brooklyn Center mayor any moment so, we're monitoring for that.

Meantime, just down the road in Minneapolis, the prosecution rests its case in the former police officer, Derek Chauvin's, murder trial. Although they are two different tragedies, the underlying similarities and the timing can't be ignored.

George Floyd and Daunte Wright were both black men who died during encounters with police, leaving two families in deep mourning and two communities angry and on edge.

Let's begin with the Derek Chauvin murder trial, and after 38 prosecution witnesses in 11 days of testimony, the defense team is now calling their own witnesses to try to undercut the prosecution's case. The defense has gone through several witnesses already today, including this woman. This is Shawanda Hill, she told the court Floyd was happy and alert when he was inside the convenience store, but then fell asleep in the car.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The store employees came and approached the car, correct?

SHAWANDA HILL, DEFENSE WITNESS: Yes.

NELSON: And at that point, Mr. Floyd suddenly fell asleep?

HILL: He was already asleep.

NELSON: He was already sleeping?

HILL: Yes, when they came to the car. And when they came there and tried to wake him up, they tried to wake him up, I tried over and over and his friend tried to wake him up and he -- he woke up, then he'll say something and made a little gesture, you know, and nodded back off.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: The court is currently in lunch break. So let's go live to Josh Campbell just outside the Minneapolis courthouse where this trial entered a new phase this morning.

Josh, what can you tell us about the defense team's strategy with the witnesses they have called so far today?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Hey, my friend. Well, one thing we're seeing is that they are moving rapidly, that being the defense. We moved through several witnesses already today and this is the first day of the defense laying out their case.

Two things we're noticing about the strategy, which is part of this theme that we saw during the prosecution's case from the defense side, that is first focusing on George Floyd himself and his actions, this idea that possibly it was due to some type of drug addiction, or him being under the influence on that day here last year that contributed to his death rather than the actions of this officer.

And that came from two of the first witnesses that we saw from the defense, the defense calling an officer who was part of a May 2019 encounter that George Floyd had as well as a medic who treated him after that police encounter. And what the medic said is that George Floyd had said that he was addicted to opioids, getting, again, to the scene that the defense has been trying to show, that it was possibly drugs that were in Floyd's system at the time, that contributed to his death rather than the actions of the officer.

Now, one other thing that we've been looking at, which is also part of this pattern, is this notion that perhaps the crowd that was around that incident last year may have contributed to the officers being distracted. One of the witnesses that was called by the defense today was a park police officer who showed up on that day to assist. We got new vantage point of this officer's body camera, and he talked about what he thought about the crowd that was around that police car.

[13:30:07]

Take a listen to what he said.