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India's Dire Need for Medical Supplies as Healthcare System is Overloaded; International Resources on the Way, But What About Vaccines?; Some Highlights and Lowlights of The Oscars This Year. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired April 26, 2021 - 10:30   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Indian officials reported more than 350,000 new infections on Monday. There had been than a million new infections in the span of just three days.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: The situation is so dire that hospitals in the capital region are tweeting out SOS messages as they face these severe oxygen shortages. Our senior international correspondent, Ivan Watson, joins us again this hour.

Ivan, you've got, yes, a number of international resources on the way, including from the United States. The question is, are they enough and do they come soon enough?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: From everything we're hearing, the -- the systems is just overwhelmed right now and -- and sadly the mortality figures reflect that. And anecdotally, when we're hearing about people dying outside of hospitals waiting for treatment and not being admitted because there aren't enough intensive care beds available.

That's the story that we've been hearing now for more than a week. Now government officials just gave a press conference a couple hours ago and they're trying to calm the situation down. Take a listen of what one doctor had to say.


RANDEEP GULERIA, DIRECTOR ALL INDIA INSTITUTE OF MEDICAL SCIENCES (through translator): There is an unnecessary panic among the public and it is causing more harm than good. Anyone who is COVID positive, even if their saturation is normal and they have no symptoms, they panic.


WATSON: Yes, one of his messages, if you're sick but you don't have symptoms, stay home and treat yourself. But look at what hospitals are tweeting and we've seen a lot of this. This is one of the most recent ones from Nayati Healthcare; they put out a tweet within the last hour or so saying oxygen crisis, SOS, 144 COVID patients life at stake. Less than 40 minutes of oxygen supply left, despite following with the authorities for the last 12 hours.

In a subsequent tweet, the hospital announces that their shipment of oxygen is being held up somewhere and they're basically begging for the -- the supplies to be allowed through. This isn't just one hospital, Poppy and Jim.

We've seen these kind of messages, desperate messages being sent out by healthcare providers around the country, day after day after day.

And some of them then say, oh thank god, we received our delivery but clearly there are major problems out there. The government says it's going to try to ramp up production of oxygen at more than 500 facilities.

We don't know when quite that will happen. They've also announced plans to try to set up a GPS tracking system for the shipment of oxygen. But in the meantime people are quite literally gasping for air and dying because there is no oxygen in some of these hospitals.

HARLOW: Ivan, thank you very, very much. The U.S. is sending, as Ivan mentioned, some much needed resources to India. Those include raw materials for vaccine production, therapeutics, rapid test, ventilators, PPE, and some advisors from the CDC and USAID.

But what about sending India actual vaccine. Actual vaccine by AstraZeneca that is sitting tens of millions of doses in the U.S. waiting because it's not approved here. Well, here's what White House senior advisor for COVID response Andy Slavitt said when our colleague, Pamela Brown, pressed him for an answer on that.


ANDY SLAVITT, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISOR FOR COVID RESPONSE: We are in a position increasingly where we're more and more confident that Americans are going to have the vaccines they need.

Once that's been the case, we've always said that what we're going to do is then make sure that we turn our attention to making sure we help the world.


HARLOW: Joining me now is Dr. Krutika Kuppalli. She's vice chair of the Infectious Disease Society of America's Global Health Community (sic).

Doctor, thank you very much for being with me. As you know, the United States has 10s of millions of doses of AstraZeneca's COVID vaccine sitting here, not being used because it has not been given the green light by the FDA here. Should that be sent to India?

DR. KRUTIKA KUPPALLI, VICE CHAIR, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SOCIETY OF AMERICA'S GLOBAL HEALTH COMMITTEE: Yes, absolutely. Listen, if the United States wants to reestablish itself as a world power, it needs to really step up at this moment and show that it is a world power and we're to help India at this moment.

Listen, the United States is doing a great job right now vaccinating all of the people here and we're quickly reaching a point where supply of vaccine that we're using here of both Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J is exceeding demand.

So we're really not going to need the AstraZeneca vaccine here. So if we have that supply, we really do have a responsibility to try and help vaccinate the rest of the world. And that includes India and other places that need it right now.

HARLOW: You have -- not only are you an expert in this space but you have family -- your parents are from India, you have family that are there right now.


I mean speak to anyone who -- who can't relate to that feeling of what if it were my loved one. Right? I mean is there any explanation for the U.S. not sending the AstraZeneca vaccine?

KUPPALLI: Yes, it's just really a very difficult situation, right. So you know talking to loved ones, they're all scared. They, you know, know that there's these live saving medications out there that can help and there really is no reason not to send them.

And you know if we want to end this pandemic we have a responsibility to try and help vaccinate the entire world. As we keep saying, these infections have no boundaries or barriers. And so even if we try and make sure that people here in the United States are safe, we really aren't safe unless everybody in the world is vaccinated and safe.

HARLOW: There's something else going on now that is really important. Not getting as much attention as actually sending vaccine to India but it's the request that India and South Africa have made of the World Trade Organization and that is for the United States to share its intellectual property.

Basically the -- the protected information of how you make these vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson to India and to poorer countries. And the tragic irony is that India is the largest -- single largest producer of vaccine in the world, period.

Do you believe the Biden administration -- I mean there's a -- there's a whole host of complex issues here when you start giving I.P. from private companies. So it's not an easy answer but I wonder what you think it should do.

KUPPALLI: Yes, again, we're in a pandemic. We're in an emergency situation, lives are being lost. We need to really pool all the resources, all the manufacturing capability across the world to try and ramp up production of these life saving therapeutics. And not just the vaccines but other medications that we know that are life saving at this point in time.

So any therapeutics that we know that can be life saving, any resources that we need; you know ventilators, PPE, all those things; really at this point in time we all need to come together in solidarity to try and help and save everybody across the world and we need to, you know, forget about intellectual property at this point in time.

HARLOW: Dr. Kuppalli, thank you for being with us. And I really hope all of your loved ones and your family in India are OK through all of this. We're thinking of them.

KUPPALLI: Thank you.


SCIUTTO: Yes, we wish them the best. A real crisis there. Up next, controversy surrounding a retired medical examiner who testified, you may remember, in the Derek Chauvin trial. Why investigators are now reviewing dozens of cases he worked on and testified on in the past.



HARLOW: This morning, several past police custody death reports in Maryland are getting a second look. Why? Because the man who served as the state's chief medical examiner for 17 years, also you remember him, he testified early this month for the defense in the George Floyd murder trial.

SCIUTTO: Yes, the question is the quality, the credibility of his assessments not just in that case but prior cases, how influential they were to the decisions, seeing as Whitney Wild is following the details here.

So Whitney, first remind viewers of what this expert witness said on the stand and what is now being called into question, not just for this trial but previous ones.

WHITNEY WILD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So David Fowler testified for the defense and what he said during that trial what that George Floyd actually didn't die of a homicide. He said that that should have been more correctly determined to have been an undetermined death.

He said that it was possible he had died of cardiac arrhythmia. He said that it was more likely his drug use combined with a carbon monoxide exposure would have been major factors in his death. Here's his exact -- the exact moment he made this claim on the stand during the trial, here he is.


DAVID FOWLER, FORMER CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER FOR STATE OF MARYLAND: His face was facing towards the vehicle, towards the rear of the vehicle and directly towards the area where you would expect the tail pipe or tail pipes to be.


FOWLER: It is an extremely toxic gas.


WILD: And we remember this carbon monoxide theme, this was examined, cross examined multiple times during the trials. It was really a flash point in the trial that of course ended up with Derek Chauvin's conviction on three different types of murder count.

So now this -- this testimony has become so controversial in the medical examiner community that in fact there was an open letter written to Maryland officials by the former D.C. medical examiner that was signed by hundreds of people in which he said that this testimony was baseless and he had major concerns about it. Here's an excerpt from the letter.

"Our disagreement with Dr. Fowler is not a matter of opinion. Our disagreement with Dr. Fowler is a matter of ethics."

Now it is a matter of policy review because Maryland officials are now saying we're going back and we're looking at all of these in custody deaths that occurred under his purview from 2002 to 2019. That was when David Fowler was the chief -- excuse me -- Dr. David Fowler was the chief medical examiner for Maryland's Office of Medical Examiners.

And so what it really signifies here is officials taking this moment to say maybe it's possible that there were problems in the past. They are reviewing these concerns. This is a very big deal. It's a long period of time and we'll have to wait to see if there are any discrepancies or any possible changes to determinations about these in custody deaths, Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Whitney, do we know, was he a paid expert witness in the Chauvin trail or not?


WILD: You know I don't know that off the top of my head but it's something I'm certainly happy to go research and come back on the air if you guys need that.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Sorry to surprise you with that.

WILD: That's OK.

SCIUTTO: Because I know some on the prosecution were not. But just curious. Whitney Wild, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Well, just ahead, Russia suspends Alexei Navalny's political movement, pending a decision to designate the group as a terror organization like ISIS. This as the opposition leaders remains behind bars. We're live in Moscow with reaction from his wife.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SCIUTTO: In Moscow, the Russian government has suspended the political activities of jailed Kremlin critic, of course, they've already jailed him too, denied him medical attention; Alexei Navalny. Now his organization is sanctioned.


HARLOW: Our senior international correspondent, Fred Pleitgen joins us now. How does the Kremlin explain this or defend this decision because they're essentially saying, you know, he's running a terror group like ISIS.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and extremist organization, you're absolutely right, Poppy. It was quite interesting because the Kremlin was actually asked about this on a phone call today and they refused to comment on the matter because they said that this trial is essentially still ongoing.

However, they have already suspended the operations of Alexei Navalny's organization. Of course all of this is going on as Alexei Navalny, as you rightly stated, is still recovering from a hunger strike in which he nearly died.

Meanwhile, his wife has actually talked about this matter. She wrote to 60 minutes. And I want to read you some of what she said. She's obviously supporting Alexei Navalny.

She's saying quote every minute of every day I admire his bravery and encourage his tenacity and strength and I stand by him and his beliefs. And I am so happy to be joined by thousands of Russians who are fighting for our country together with us.

Obviously speaking about a lot of the people who went on the streets last week to protest in support of Alexei Navalny. But we have to really talk about how devastating a decision this could possibly be if this court does declare Alexei Navalny's organization to be an extremist organization.

It would mean everybody working for that organization could go to jail unless they stop working for it. Everybody who voices support for the organization could go to jail. People donating money would probably go to jail.

Even people who tweet or re-tweet support of the organization could face jail time and that's even back dating to post that could have been re-tweeted as far back as 2011. So you can clearly see the Russian government really going after this organization.

And it was interesting because one of the folks who was in that organization said they believed that the Russian government is essentially trying to declare the fight against corruption in this country to be extremism. Guys.

HARLOW: Fred, we are so glad you're there on top of all of this. Thank you for that. It's a really important development. SCIUTTO: No question. Still ahead, some surprises, also some snubs at

the Academy Awards. Why Glenn Close still won the night even though she lost the award.



HARLOW: Producers of this year's Academy Awards promised that the Oscars would be like a movie. Well, the shows ending didn't go exactly as many had expected last night.

SCIUTTO: Some surprises. Bit of an upset when the late Chadwick Boseman did not win best actor for "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom." The Oscar went instead to Anthony Hopkins for the father. That made him the oldest Oscar winner ever.

Of course Chadwick Boseman passed away a number of months ago. CNN's Stephanie Elam is live in Los Angeles. Stephanie, so give us the highlights, the low lights of the show.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it was a different show for sure, Jim and Poppy, when you saw how the Oscar's laid out the road map. It was not the same way that we've seen most of the categories. And one of the changes was normally best picture is at the end.

Instead what was at the end was best actor. And I think a lot of people expected that the winner there was going to be Chadwick Boseman. He's been winning throughout award season. Obviously he's gone and such a beloved actor. But it went to Anthony Hopkins who wasn't even there, wasn't on hand for his portrayal in "The Father," which is a phenomenal job on -- for him actually in this movie.

But he put his thank you on Instagram this morning. Take a listen.


ATHONY HOPKINS, ACTOR: I'm very grateful to the Academy and thank you. And I want to pay tribute to Chadwick Boseman who was taken from us far too early. And again, thank you all very much. I really did not expect this.


ELAM: I think it's clear that he didn't expect it because he wasn't even on hand. So he probably woke to the news here and that was probably great but also still a little sad there. But his performance in "The Father," if you haven't seen it, it's fantastic.

Now, moving on to the other category to take a look at Best Actress, that went to Frances McDormand in "Nomadland." A lot of people didn't think that she was going to win. This movie also winning for Chloe Zhao for Best Director.

She is the second woman to win in this category, the first woman of color to win here. So obviously this was making news there, making history there. And also you've got Daniel Kaluuya who won for Best Supporting Actor. He had a moment where he said he was so happy to be alive and he's like my mom and my dad, they had sex and I'm here.

It was like crazy. His mom's face is probably already a meme across the world in that moment. And then Yuh-Jung Young, Best Supporting Actress for "Minari." She was so cute with Brad Pitt. That was also another win for diversity because she's the first Korean woman to win in this category.

So you saw it playing out throughout there. Also the two women from hairstyling and make-up, that's Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson along with Sergio Lopez were there. They were the first black women though, to win in this category for "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom."

So you did see diversity playing throughout here. But the big moment that I think most people were probably talking about is Glenn Close. Eighth time being nominated, still didn't win for "Hillbilly Elegy," but yet, she knows so much about go-go music from the DMV -- from the -- from the D.C. era and Spike Lee's movie "School Daze."


Take a look at her -- show that she actually knows how to do "da butt". She didn't just dance. She knows how to do "da butt". We're going to see it here in a second. It was just a delightful moment - how much she knew about the song, however they planned it, it was just really a cute moment.

SCIUTTO: All right, well, we'll have to save the actual dance for later. I'm sure you can find it online.

Stephanie Elam, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Thank you Steph. Thanks to all of you for joining us. We'll see you tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. "At This Hour" with Kate Bolduan is starting (ph).