Return to Transcripts main page


Johnson & Johnson Vaccinations Resume Across the U.S. After Pause; Fully Vaccinated Americans Will Soon Be Able to Travel to Europe; Biden Preparing to Address a Joint Session of Congress Wednesday Night; Police Release Body-Cam Footage of Andrew Brown; Futures Mixed Ahead of Big Fed Meeting and Earnings Week. Aired 9- 9:30a ET

Aired April 26, 2021 - 09:00   ET



FRED PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The spokesman for Vladimir Putin, Dmitri Peskov, said that at this point they would not comment on this matter. However, as you can imagine it, this trial is one that's very important here in Russia and so the organization believes it could be destroyed if it is indeed declared extremist -- John.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thank you so much, Fred Pleitgen, in Moscow for us. CNN's coverage continues right now.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A very good Monday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Poppy Harlow. We're glad you're with us.

But we begin this morning with a major turnaround and big signs of progress in the fight against the pandemic. More than a year after the European Union closed its borders shutting down non-essential travel, the head of the European Commission now tells the "New York Times" it will begin allowing fully vaccinated Americans to visit Europe this summer.

This comes as sources tell CNN that tomorrow, a day before his first address to Congress, President Biden will also announce new CDC guidance on whether vaccinated people actually need to wear those masks outdoors.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Hints from Dr. Fauci that might be changing. These hopeful steps towards normalcy are coming at a pivotal time, though. The administration is warning that the pace of vaccinations could begin slowing down as more Americans have already gotten vaccinated. The major ongoing challenge, millions of Americans still hesitant to get their shots. More on the White House's plans to battle that.

And Johnson & Johnson's one-shot vaccine is back on the table after a brief pause by the FDA. But new data shows that a growing number of Americans are now simply unwilling to take it. And that's where we begin. CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now.

Elizabeth, this was the worry going in. A very small number of people having a bad reaction led to the pause. But now a very large number of folks are too scared to take it. What do the numbers show us?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Jim, let me talk about why these numbers might not be quite as scary as they look. But first let's take a look at the numbers. This new poll showing that 73 percent of respondents are not willing to take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. And these are unvaccinated people. They said I am not willing to get Johnson & Johnson. Only 22 percent said they are willing.

If these people have a choice, if there's enough Moderna and Pfizer out there, it is not necessarily such a big deal that people are unwilling to get Johnson & Johnson if there is enough Moderna and Pfizer out there. The issue is going to be, will there be areas of the United States where you can only get Johnson & Johnson? That becomes a problem.

Johnson & Johnson is easier to transport. You don't have to keep it at these very low frozen temperatures. It's, you know, one and done. So if there are obvious advantages to it, and if there are areas where that's all they have and those advantages don't help, people still don't want it, that's going to be a problem.

HARLOW: It is, for sure. There is, though, it appears some good news here in these numbers in terms of people either vaccinated or willing to get vaccinated in the new poll?

COHEN: That's right. There's always been this big concern about vaccine hesitancy, that people aren't going to be willing to get it. So let's take a look at this new poll and how these numbers are going in the right direction. So this poll found that 74 percent of people were already vaccinated or were inclined to get vaccinated. If you look at that same number, that same metric back in January, it was 65 percent. So that is good.

Some of the biggest jumps that they're seeing are among Republicans and Latinos. And that is -- those are two groups that have had quite a bit of vaccine hesitancy. So it is good, with time, perhaps as they've seen their friends getting vaccinated and they're fine, and they're protected against COVID, maybe that has really -- long way to convincing people that they should also get vaccinated -- Poppy, Jim.

HARLOW: Thank you, Elizabeth, very much for that reporting.

SCIUTTO: Yes, it's a good change. We've been talking about perhaps as many as a third of Americans didn't want to get vaccinated.


SCIUTTO: That's down to about one in four. That's progress. Well, just days after the CDC and the FDA lifted the pause on Johnson

& Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine CNN has learned that the U.S. has more than nine million doses ready to be administered now across the country.

HARLOW: Our Polo Sandoval joins us right here in New York where they are restarting the administering of the J&J vaccine. Really in New York at all of the state-run sites. Is it clear when the sites will actually start giving out the doses?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, the state using the word immediately to describe how soon we can expect to see that Johnson & Johnson vaccine made available to people at least here in New York. And listen, just because some of those numbers may suggest that there might be a lack of interest doesn't necessarily mean that the state isn't going to go all out and try to make that vaccine available at various locations throughout the city of New York including here at the Javits Center.

It's actually where I got my Johnson & Johnson vaccine about three weeks ago. But the thing is, it is going to take some time to actually make those available to the general public. We have heard from officials saying that they're still going to take some time to ramp up those supplies, to get some of those millions of doses of the J&J vaccine to the places where they're actually going to be administered.


At the same time, the state is also hoping to address some of that vaccine hesitancy and some of those concern by also telling New Yorkers that there is yet another layer of approval here in New York, with the state's Clinical Advisory Task Force. Also considering not only the CDC, but the FDA's recommendation, considering that, taking a look at this vaccine and then concluding that it is in fact safe for majority of the population to actually get that vaccine.

So they're definitely anxious to get that message out to people who may opt for that, who may consider that Johnson & Johnson vaccine. And get that other message that clearly the benefits will clearly outweigh the risks. Because the message still hasn't changed here, Poppy and Jim. Get any vaccine you can. And in some cases it may potentially have to be the J&J. That's back and green lit yet again -- guys.

HARLOW: All right, Polo. Thank you very much.

Now for more on the news that fully vaccinated Americans will be allowed to travel to Europe starting this summer.

SCIUTTO: That's a big change. CNN's Pete Muntean joins us now.

This -- it means a lot of in both directions, right? Americans who want to go there, but also for European countries I'm sure eager to welcome particularly a lot of tourists.

POLO MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Totally, Jim. And it's a bit of a return to normal for the struggling air travel industry. The E.U. is essentially saying that our vaccines are good enough, Pfizer, J&J, and Moderna all approved here by Emergency Use Authorization. Also approved in the E.U.'s 27 member nations. This is so big because travel to the E.U. has essentially been banned for non-essential travelers for more than a year.

And now the E.U. is saying that fully vaccinated Americans can start traveling to European nations by this summer. We still need to work out a few details here. No exact timeline offered by the E.U. Also, the use of vaccine passports needs to be ironed out.

And the E.U. is clarifying saying that each of its individual 27- member nations will be allowed to waive these rules individually. This will not be opening up travel to the E.U. all at once. But it is a huge development, one that's being acknowledged and celebrated by the White House. Here's what they had to say.


What the world is saying is they're looking at the U.S., they're looking at the success of our vaccination program, they're looking at the reduction in disease, and while they know we're not done yet they're saying those Americans are safe to come to our country without risk of spreading COVID-19. Think about that. That's incredible. Just a few months ago we were the nation in the world that was one of the most cut off from travel.


MUNTEAN: Struggling airlines cannot wait for this. Domestic, leisure travel is what's been up. The TSA says 1.57 million people passed through security at America's airports just yesterday. The normal number, around 2.5 million. And what's missing is international travel, so lucrative for airlines they've already had their eyes on restrictions being relaxed to some nations for vaccinated travelers.

There's actually United Airlines, just added routes to Croatia, Greece, and Iceland because of that, and it seems like we're going to see more of that coming soon now that the E.U. is relaxing these restrictions -- Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Airports are already pretty crowded with this boom in domestic. It's be interesting to see how they look with international travel coming back.

Pete Muntean, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Let's bring in Dr. Jeffrey Gold, chancellor of the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Good morning, Doctor. So there's good news.


HARLOW: That we went over on COVID then there's really bad news, India, in particular which we'll get to in a moment. But here in the United States the CDC now says about 8 percent of folks who've received one shot of a vaccine have not gotten a second shot. And obviously they point to some people delaying it on their own. But they also point to a big problem, and that is providers lacking sufficient supply or getting the right one to give you the same dose of the same, you know, vaccine as the second dose.

What do people need to know this morning if they're among that group?

GOLD: Well, I think first off, Poppy, we shouldn't be surprised because with any two-dose vaccine sequence there is always going to be logistical issues. And what I mean by that is people miss appointments. They forget, their work or their travel gets in the way. And they need to reschedule. And I think that's one important thing, that if you miss your day, it's not too late. There are certain parts of the world, such as Canada, and parts of Europe, that are waiting as long as 10 and 12 weeks between these doses so people should show up and get their second dose.

Secondly, right now the CDC recommendations are to mirror your first dose. That is if you got a Moderna shot you, should get a Moderna shot again. But there is research going on right now looking at what happens when you do mix and match.

And there actually may be some advantages to that. Fortunately, most of this is logistics and a very small amount of it is actually medical. That is to say people that have had a pretty severe reaction to their first dose, hopefully talked to their health care professional, got some advice and said, well, you know, maybe I'll wait a little bit longer for my second dose, or maybe I'll wait until the next booster shot comes out, which probably going to be in the summer or the fall.


SCIUTTO: You know, it's interesting I look at that figure and I see that 92 percent of people came back to get their second shot. I mean, given we're talking about tens of millions of people, it's actually, you know, from my perspective not the worst thing.

I want to ask you, Dr. Gold, about the importance of what happens outside of the U.S., right, in terms of controlling the -- or getting to the end of this pandemic because you have many countries that don't have the same supply as the U.S., Europe included. And now you got India, you know, which is going -- second most populous country in the world going through a massive spike here. The U.S. sending some supplies, vaccine, raw materials, to help them out.

Is that something the U.S. should be doing now? And how important is getting to world herd immunity as opposed to just national herd immunity?

GOLD: Well, Jim, it's going to be critical to get to world herd immunity. And, you know, our headlines have been filled with, you know, virus variants from the United Kingdom, from South America, various variants rom South Africa, and the mutations that are occurring creating potential resistance to the vaccines and the opportunity for American citizens to be reinfected.

And given how global our world is, given the fact that we're reopening international travel as we just talked about with American citizens going to all different parts of Europe for either tourism or business, getting this global pandemic behind us is going to be key.

Clearly focusing first on those that we know and love and work with here in the States. But once we have a reasonable amount of that behind us we need to look at the rest of the world very carefully and do as much as we can both scientifically and also through trying to provide materials if we can.

HARLOW: Well, to Jim's point, I mean, this is global. And what is reasonable, right?


HARLOW: Because 6,000 plus people died from COVID in India over the weekend. Yesterday, 353,000 people in India contracted it. And it's a sad irony that they are -- that country is the biggest maker of vaccines in the world. They want the U.S. to send them actual produced vaccine, AstraZeneca, that is sitting in warehouses now because it's not approved here yet. Should the U.S. be doing that now? Today?

GOLD: Well, I think depending upon what our supplies look like, and we can look at that three, four, six weeks ahead, and our projections for getting to the so-called herd immunity which we all talk about which is probably somewhere between 80 percent and 70 percent of our population. If we have excess vaccine I think it is a humanitarian and reasonable thing to do. No different frankly than what we did when we were treating Ebola in western Africa. No different than what we were doing when we were treating Zika in the southern hemisphere.

It's the humanitarian thing to do. And when we have the technology and adequate amount of supply to do so, we should certainly try.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Viruses know no borders.

Before we go, we know that the president will announce new mask guidelines for outdoors in particular. Some hinting from Dr. Fauci over the weekend that the president will relax these. What do you expect? And is now the right time to do that?

GOLD: Well, you know, it all depends upon whether people are really going to be responsible. That is to say, if they follow the new guidelines. If they don't require masking or certain distances. You know, people follow the rule of three to six. That is to say, if you are outside, you're more than six feet apart from somebody else, you don't need to wear a mask. It's sort of a two out of three rule as we like to refer to it.

But it does seem to be reasonable. We know that there's much less viral transmission that occurs outside. As the weather is getting warmer I think we want to encourage people to be outside and get that part of their life back. So I'm optimistic and hopeful that he does announce that. SCIUTTO: All right. We'll be watching. Dr. Jeffrey Gold, thanks very


GOLD: My pleasure. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Still to come this hour President Biden closing in on his first 100 days in office. And as he prepares to address a Joint Session of Congress this week, how do his accomplishments stack up with his predecessors?

HARLOW: Also the family of a black man shot and killed by police could have the chance to finally see the body camera footage of that shooting today. We will have a live report on Andrew Brown Jr., that shooting, from North Carolina, ahead.



HARLOW: Well, a big week for President Biden as he nears 100 days in office. On Wednesday night, he will give his first presidential address to a joint session of Congress. It is a speech that he has attended eight times as President Obama's vice president and 36 times as a lawmaker. But now, it is his turn.

SCIUTTO: With us now, Dana Bash; CNN chief political correspondent, co-anchor of "STATE OF THE UNION", CNN presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, thanks so much to both of you. Doug, I wonder if I could begin with you, because there is a narrative out there as we come to the end of 100 days, but also look forward to his other legislative priorities that Biden is reversing Reaganism, in effect, right, going back to the '80s, the idea that government is the problem. And now that actually a lot of these things are popular across parties that he's doing, COVID relief, for instance, infrastructure, even some of the tax hikes that he talks about.

And I wonder if you believe it's too early to say that? Do you think there's substance behind that, and does the polling back it up?


DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, those are all great questions. Here, the polling shows that Joe Biden is doing pretty well, he's about at 53 percent overall. And that's remarkable compared to where Donald Trump was. Normally, though, during the first hundred days, we give presidents big honey moons. They rack up approval ratings in the 60s and 70 percents. We're not seeing that with Joe Biden, which reminds us what a deeply divided country we are, that I think history is going to look well on what Joe Biden has done. He's even the temperature of our country.

He's calmed things down. He responded with dignity after the horror of the January 6th insurrection. He works daily with Kamala Harris, historic first person of color as vice president. He's pulling us out of Afghanistan, and was able to start really getting shots in arms. I mean, the COVID rollout, all things considered, are going very well

under Joe Biden. Failures with immigration, but overall, it has been a remarkable 100 days for Joe Biden, and they should be proud of where they're at this time. And they've got their cabinet by and large confirmed, which is also a good thing.

HARLOW: But now, arguably, the even harder, politically harder work begins, right, Dana? On $4 trillion in money that he would like to spend to accomplish some of these big goals. And I know somebody who did a really good interview in the last few days with the Vice President Kamala Harris. And that's you. And in watching it on "STATE OF THE UNION" with you yesterday, this is part that really struck me, what she said about Biden and his presidency. Here it is.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a president who has an extraordinary amount of courage. He is someone who I have seen over and over again make decisions based on what he truly believes, based on his years of doing this work and studying these issues, what he truly believes is the right thing to do. And I'm going to tell you something about him. He is acutely aware that it may not be politically popular or advantageous for him personally. It's really something to see.


HARLOW: So that would indicate that maybe this is going to be the high point, Dana of his approval rating, and he's going to push through stuff anyways that might bring that down, but he thinks it's right to do.

DANA BASH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Perhaps. You know, that's a really interesting way to look at it, Poppy. And you know, what specifically, the vice president was talking about there was the president's decision to pull all U.S. military forces out of Afghanistan by September 11th, 2021, 20 years after 9/11.

And what she was talking about was a response to my question about whether she was the last person in the room before he made that decision because that was one of the really important criterion for Joe Biden when he was deciding who to pick as his running mate. And she said she was.

And then she went on to describe how he approached the decision. Because it wasn't -- certainly, wasn't popular with members of the military. And I think that was what she was trying to say there. Maybe more popular with the large swath of the American people who are and continue to be a bit war weary. But I thought that was really --


BASH: Telling as to what their relationship is like as it has built on itself over the past 100 days.

SCIUTTO: Dana, if we were on a different network now or on different Facebook pages, the number one issue that folks would associate with Biden is the situation at the border, right? It's described repeatedly as a crisis by those, and that we're talking about 40 percent, 50 percent of the country right there, and of course, Kamala Harris, you know, with a central role in responding to that. How much is that surge at the border affecting Biden's standing a 100 days in, and does he have a way out?

BASH: It is affecting him, that is certainly one of the things -- one of the issues that at least public polling -- and I'm guessing that's true for their private polling shows is hurting him the most when you look at the kind of, you know, the table of crisis that he is dealing with or at least the challenges that he is dealing with.

And the vice president has been tasked with dealing with not so much the children at the border and some of the horrible images that we have seen or at least we hope to see and we know about going on at the border, but trying to deal with the root cause of that going to the northern triangle countries which she told me she is going to try to do as soon as she can and trying to deal in a diplomatic way.


I thought it was interesting as part of our conversation, Jim, that she was very intentional about saying that this is a long term problem, that this is a long-term strategy to try to deal with the problem, and it's not going to happen overnight. Really lowering expectations --


BASH: For how she defines success.

HARLOW: You, Douglas, have really compared what we're going to hear from Biden on Wednesday night to President Kennedy, and his address, calling for a man on the moon. Really? I mean, are we going to get a big surprise from Biden? Why do you think the two are really in tandem here?

BRINKLEY: Well, they're not really in tandem. A point I made to a journalist was that on May 25th, 1961, Kennedy came a little bit later into the beginning of his administration and went to the joint session of Congress and said we're going to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade and nobody believed it because it's just a big government idea.

Except Kennedy went and found the money. And the point I was making is I think that it's great that Joe Biden is talking about all of these big projects, there are going to be jobs and infrastructure and climate, but hasn't -- he has to get Congress aboard.


BRINKLEY: So when he speaks to the nation this week, he's got to try to be making sure that people like Murkowski and Sass and Collins and Romney and others are -- he's drawing them in, and at very least keeping the more moderates in the Democratic Party in line. Big projects cost a lot of money and you'd like to do it in a bipartisan way. The moon shot was that. Let's see if Biden could do something that gets even a little bit of Republican support.

SCIUTTO: Well, if he's sending someone to Mars, I'm going on that trip, OK? I just want to make that clear. So, let's just communicate that to the White House. Douglas Brinkley --

BASH: That's very clear, Jim, you've established that --

SCIUTTO: I -- listen --

HARLOW: Yes, you have.

SCIUTTO: I'm making all these public pitching and I haven't heard a word from NASA, it's really devastating --

BASH: I heard it --


HARLOW: Own it.

SCIUTTO: Dana Bash, Douglas Brinkley, thanks very much.

BRINKLEY: Thanks, guys.

SCIUTTO: After days of demonstrations and calls for answers, the family of Andrew Brown Jr. who was shot and killed by police as they tried to serve him an arrest warrant could see -- personally viewed the body camera footage of the shooting today. Got to imagine having to do that. We're going to have a live update.

HARLOW: We're also moments away from the opening bell here on Wall Street, futures are mixed, investors will be watching the Federal Reserve meeting this week closely. Also of course, watching the president's speech before a joint session of Congress and a slew of corporate earnings reports also set for this week. We'll keep a close eye on the market.