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The Biden Agenda; Police Shooting Investigations; CDC Expected to Announce Decision on Johnson & Johnson Vaccine. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired April 23, 2021 - 14:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Hello. And good to have you with us. I'm Victor Blackwell.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: And I'm Alisyn Camerota.

We have new developments from a critical meeting happening at this hour on the future of the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine. The White House coronavirus adviser tells CNN the U.S. has nine million Johnson & Johnson doses ready to go if the pause lifts.

The decision is expected in the next couple of hours. The CDC is aware of 16 cases of blood clots in people who have received the J&J vaccine; 13 of them are women under the age of 50. Three people have died. Seven are still in the hospital.

BLACKWELL: Now, whatever the determination, it will play into the new phase of messaging from the White House COVID team.

Today, officials announced that they are focusing more on building vaccine confidence and not just on vaccine supply, because supply is beginning to outpace demand.

CAMEROTA: For the first time in two weeks, the seven-day average of vaccinations has fallen below three million shots a day.

So, let's get right to CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. We have so much to talk to him about.

So, Sanjay, now that the CDC is aware of these 16 cases of blood clots, do you expect them to still recommend the use of this vaccine?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I -- it's obviously guessing here, but I do think that they will still recommend the use of the vaccine.

Two things to keep in mind. First of all, ultimately, for the authorization, what they had to show was, do the benefits outweigh the risks? You just talked about the numbers here. Overall, we're talking roughly, now, if you add up all these numbers, seven out of a million, roughly, women who are under the age of 50 developed this problem.

For women over the age of 50, it was obviously much rarer than that. And one man in the clinical trial, they weren't sure if it was directly associated with this vaccine or not in that situation. But when you put it all together, I think that they will still recommend it. They may have certain caveats, as in, have you had a history of low platelets or this type of specific blood clot before?

And, also, just to send a message to people, look, if you develop symptoms, headache, blurriness of vision, something unusual like that, talk to your doctor, but also the doctors will know that there's a specific way to treat this problem.

So, all -- that's a lot, to answer your question. I think the answer will be, yes, it'll be released, but with those sorts of caveats.

BLACKWELL: So, Sanjay, the pause was a recommendation from the administration to states, to the Walgreens and CVS and the rest.

Is that your expectation, if this recommendation is now to continue use and distribution with these warnings or restrictions, that, en masse, all of them will return to using this? And how soon could they be delivered or injected?


No, Victor, I think it would be all of the same distribution channels. And I think it would happen right away. I mean, in some cases, I think people were a little surprised it's taken this long, because, even though this represents a relatively small amount of the overall vaccine going out -- and we did the calculations -- it's about one out of every 17 shots -- it still does serve a really important purpose.

You know, I have been getting a lot of e-mails, for example, from parents of college students, who they were more reliant on this, because it's a single-shot thing. Maybe they weren't going to still be on campus for the second shot.

So, my point is that -- these various communities that could certainly benefit from this. They have got shots, as you mentioned, ready to roll, nine million of them or so. So I think the same distribution channels, and right away, Victor, I mean, tomorrow, potentially, if this actually does get released again.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, let's talk about where we are now in the country with number of people vaccinated. So, 52 percent of American adults have gotten at least one vaccine.

That means that 48 percent are not yet vaccinated.

GUPTA: Right.

CAMEROTA: And so, I mean, I know that you and all the doctors that we talked to and public health officials want them to get vaccinated.

So, is there some sort of model that we could use to help reluctant people, some sort of public safety campaign that has worked in the past? And I think about Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, I think about AIDS awareness, things like that. Is there something that has worked in the past that they will rely on now? GUPTA: It's a really good and important question, Alisyn.

I don't know if we have this one graphic showing who is more likely to get the vaccine, who's fence-sitting. If we have it, we can put it up.

But let me answer the question this way. We know about 60 percent of the country says, I have either gotten it or I'm totally willing to get it, no problem. That blue line in the middle, I think, Alisyn, is who you're referring to, 17 percent now the number.


Call them the movable middle. They are people who are sort of waiting and seeing. The two bottom green lines are people who say absolutely no way, and only if required, so they're going to be harder to move.

So, the blue line, how do you address those people? If you go back and look historically, even back to 2009, H1N1, there was a lot of vaccine hesitancy back then as well. What they ended up learning from that whole experience was that, frankly, more than celebrities or politicians, it was people's own health care providers that ended up being the most -- the people who would sway the movable middle the most, your own doctors, your own nurses, your own health care teams.

So that's really where a lot of the attention has to be focused. As you probably know, I mean, even among health care workers, there is some degree of vaccine hesitancy, 20, 25 percent, so really focusing on that population and then letting them serve as the ambassadors.

I'm only saying this, because that's historically what the data has shown in terms of the best efforts in terms of actually convincing that movable middle.

BLACKWELL: So, Sanjay, from the start of the vaccine rollout, you and really every medical professional we have had on air has said that get whichever vaccine you can.

But considering now that we're at the tipping point, potentially, of supply outpacing demand, there's the -- now we expect a restriction or warning coming with J&J and some people who are a bit reluctant. Is now a time to be a little more selective?

Would you say that vaccine shopping is OK and understandable at this point?

GUPTA: I think, as far as the one-shot vs. two-shot regimens, I think that there may be some vaccine shopping. That would be understandable.

There's some people who just really have a hard time getting in for one shot, let alone two shots, people who are transient, but also I mentioned college students, people who may be actually moving within a short time. That can be more challenging.

But I just urge people, when they look at the data, a lot of times, what people will say was, I -- that one works way better than this one. With regard with regard to Moderna and Pfizer, they're very similar. I mean, they're nearly identical in terms of how well they work.

Johnson & Johnson's data doesn't look as promising as that. But you got to remember that Johnson & Johnson was trialed at a different time, a later time, when, in some ways, the disease of the pandemic was more severe in the world, and there were many more variants.

Point being, if you were to have trialed Pfizer and Moderna at the same time you trialed Johnson & Johnson, you may have gotten very similar sort of effectiveness results. So, overall, in terms of effectiveness, I think they really are all pretty similar. They're all very effective, which is great news.

But if it's a one-shot thing, or you just, for some reason, can't get the two shots, then J&J may be a better option.

CAMEROTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, great to see you. Thanks so much.

GUPTA: You too. You got it.

CAMEROTA: OK, so on the heels of the Derek Chauvin verdict, a new poll says that a majority of Americans support greater scrutiny of police conduct.

"The Washington Post"/ABC News poll says 60 percent now of Americans believe more should be done to hold police accountable; 33 percent say too much is being done to interfere in how police officers do their job.

We have been following two deadly police shootings of black Americans just this week. In the North Carolina town of Elizabeth City, community members taking to the streets, protesting Wednesday's police shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. and demanding the public release of bodycam video there.

Brown was shot by a county sheriff -- sheriff's deputy while authorities say they were trying to serve him with an arrest warrant.

And, in Ohio, we are learning more about what happened in the moments before 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant was shot and killed by a Columbus police officer.

Our reporters have the latest developments in both cases.

So, let's start with CNN's Brian Todd. He's in Elizabeth City to explain where things stand with the growing calls to release that bodycam video -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, the town is getting a little bit frustrated. Community leaders are frustrated. The family of Andrew Brown is getting increasingly frustrated that that body camera footage has not been released yet.

And this is the way people in this city are expressing their frustration. They are -- this is the first daytime protest that they have engaged in since Wednesday evening. All the protests have been in the evening period. And they have come down this street. This is Ehringhaus Street, where they have come down the last two evenings to block traffic and to disrupt commerce in a very, very peaceful way, I have to add.

This -- these protests have been just almost 100 percent peaceful, orderly and well-organized. But you will see here that they have blocked some cars from exiting there. They have got police vehicles over there, where they blocked that intersection down there.

This is the way they're expressing their frustration, because they have not gotten the transparency that they're asking for from the DA's office, from the sheriff's office, in releasing that bodycam footage.

We also can tell you that CNN just a short time ago spoke to Andrew Brown's aunt, a lady named Betty Banks, who told us just what her nephew meant to her and her family.



BETTY BANKS, AUNT OF ANDREW BROWN JR.: He was one of the sweetest people you ever want to meet. He loved his family. And God knows he loved his grandmother.

But just to see a man that's so somber and so in love with his family and his children, and, when they are taken out like this, it really does something to you that you really can't explain.


TODD: So, Andrew Brown's family not only morning this afternoon, but also, again, pressing for answers that they don't believe they're getting.

And the question is, when is that body camera footage from the deputies going to be released? The DA's offices and the sheriff have said this is a matter of a court order being needed to release that videotape.

But several entities in town we know have petitioned for that order for the release of this, Alisyn. So it's kind of a waiting game we're playing. But the town is just getting more and more frustrated here that the transparency that they're asking for has not been forthcoming -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Brian, thank you very much for that reporting from the ground.

BLACKWELL: Let's go now to Athena Jones in Columbus, Ohio, where authorities have released more video there in that case.

Again, we want to warn you that the video is graphic. It's tough to watch.

Athena, what do we learn from this new video?


Well, there are a few new videos that have been released, some from authorities, one from a neighbor's security camera from across the street. On that footage, you can see this incident take place. You can see Officer Reardon, Officer Nicholas Reardon, arrive in his patrol car, get out of the car, and within a few seconds of fire those four shots, ultimately killing Ma'Khia Bryant.

But, yes, you're right. Columbus Police Department has been releasing a series of videos over the last few days. The most recent one was Thursday. And that was simply police dash-cam footage from a cruiser arriving a few moments after the incident took place.

So it doesn't really shed new light on what took place on Tuesday afternoon. Really, the most important set of videos that have been put out by the Columbus Police Department are the ones they put out Tuesday night about five-and-a-half-hours after that initial incident, both a normal speed video and a slow motion video, where we can -- where you can see what took place.

And in contrast to what we're hearing from Brian Todd in North Carolina, there has been a completely different approach to a situation like this by the Columbus P.D. They believe -- we're hearing this from the police department, the interim police chief and from the mayor of Columbus -- that it's very, very important to put out as much information as possible to the public as quickly as possible, so that the public, which is demanding answers in a case like this, is able to get them.

And so that is what we're seeing from Columbus police. Even if the most recent videos don't add too much to our understanding, it's their -- part of their effort to be more transparent.

And, meanwhile, my colleague Jason Carroll was able to speak with Ma'Khia Bryant's mother, Paula Bryant. Here's what she had to say.


PAULA BRYANT, MOTHER OF MA'KHIA BRYANT: My heart is broken. My heart is really broken right now.

I had a beautiful baby. She was taken from me. She was taken from me.


JONES: And so you can clearly see and hear the pain in Paula Bryant's voice and on her face, that interview being conducted yesterday by my colleague Jason Carroll, who also reports that Ma'Khia Bryant's family received a call from the city of Columbus yesterday, asking -- or letting them know that they would be able to view Ma'Khia's body today.

And we believe that is happening right about now. But all -- by all accounts, this is a tragic situation. It is under investigation -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Athena Jones, thank you.

So, coming up: President Biden, he focused on coronavirus and the economy during his first 100 days in office. He has an ambitious agenda, though. What will get done next?

CAMEROTA: Plus: some Republicans in Congress reportedly making sexist remarks about Congresswoman Liz Cheney. Other Republicans say they were horrified by these comments. We will discuss.



CAMEROTA: Day two of the White House's virtual climate summit, and President Biden's focus is clear, make the economic case for tackling global warming.

But cutting emissions by 50 percent in less than a decade is a pledge that will not be easy to keep. And, of course, the same can be said for some of his other big promises, including his $2 trillion infrastructure package, also passing police reform and effecting real change on gun safety.

Joining us now, CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash.

Dana, great to see you.


CAMEROTA: So, what's the feeling in Washington? Is he being overly ambitious? What can be done?

BASH: Go big or go home, I mean, that is definitely the theme of the first 100 days of the Biden presidency. There's no question about it.

And the way to answer that question is to look at each thing individually. Gun safety, it's been languishing on Capitol Hill for decades, literally. And so, if he's going to get something done, he's got to get involved and make it a priority. People at the White House understand that.

Infrastructure, it's going to be very tricky, considering the fact that even the Democrats he needs, particularly on the Senate side, Joe Manchin in particular, isn't so sure about his plan, because it is so vast.


The climate crisis and the things that he prescribed could be different, Alisyn and Victor. And the reason is because they are aggressively courting business. They are aggressively courting world leaders to make this an all-out sort of cross-government, all-across- the-government goal.

And the thing that's so striking about it is that, yes, that is the goal in terms of action. But, first and foremost, you can hear it in their rhetoric. It is a goal to rebrand the climate crisis, not as a sacrifice that people have to make, but as an opportunity.

You're going to hear that. You heard it over the last two days, and you're going to hear it over and over, including tonight at the CNN town hall, that this is about jobs, that this is about movement, that this is about opportunity.

The big question is whether or not people are going to buy what they're selling with regard to this rebranding.

BLACKWELL: Yes, Dana, you talked about infrastructure, which is a big part of this climate package, getting all of that passed.

BASH: Yes.

BLACKWELL: And you mentioned Senator Manchin, but the progressives in the House, who were not especially excited about the outcome of the COVID relief package -- they didn't get everything they wanted -- are they in a mood to deal or compromise now with this new climate push and infrastructure push?

BASH: No, not at all.

I mean, you alluded to this, Victor. They weren't in the mood to deal from the beginning. But many of them -- forgive me -- sucked it up, because it was their new president's first big priority, and it was an emergency situation, because you're talking about a pandemic and getting money out there as quickly as possible.

And you're exactly right. This could be different. But they're likely going to run up against and into the same reality that they did before, which is, not only is the Democratic majority in the House much more narrow than anybody on their side anticipated before the election; it doesn't get any closer in the Senate.

And so they have to play ball with the Joe Manchin's of the world, the Kyrsten Sinema of Arizonas of the world if they have any chance of getting this through, never mind the next step in a potential compromise, which is working across the aisle.

CAMEROTA: Dana, you sat down with Vice President Kamala Harris and talked about police reform. So what did she tell you?

BASH: So interesting. I got to talk to her during a week where, obviously, this country has been having a reckoning for some time, but it really reached a certain climax this week.

So, I spoke with her about her particular role inside the White House, given how historic the fact that she is there even is.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This verdict is but a piece of it. And it will not heal the pain that existed for generations, that has existed for generations among people who have experienced and firsthand witnessed what now a broader public is seeing, because of smartphones and the ubiquity of our ability to videotape in real time what is happening in front of our faces.

And that's just the reality of it. And that's why -- that's why Congress needs to act. And that's why they should pass the George Floyd Justice Act.


BASH: So, the next question is, how involved will you be in order to make that happened? Because compromise needs to happen sometimes with a big giant push from the White House.

They seem to be having a hands-off approach right now in that and letting the very real negotiations go on between very serious lawmakers, from Karen Bass on the House side, to Cory Booker and Republican Tim Scott on the Republican side in the Senate.

And they seem to be making some progress, which is a lot more than anybody thought anybody could say on this issue or, frankly, so many issues across party lines not that long ago.

BLACKWELL: Yes, the president made some big promises to those families and to black voters...

BASH: He sure did.

BLACKWELL: ... who supported him during the campaign. We will see if these come through.

Dana Bash, thanks so much.

BASH: Good to see you.

BLACKWELL: Good to see you too.

And you can watch Dana's special CNN town hall on the climate crisis tonight at 10:00. And Dana's exclusive interview with the vice president, Kamala Harris, airs on "STATE OF THE UNION." That is Sunday at 9:00 and noon.

Up next: The White House is pushing to get all Americans vaccinated, and they're getting some help from across the aisle. I will talk to a Republican lawmaker who is working to fight vaccine hesitancy, even delivering some of those shots himself to conservatives.