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Interview With Dr. Sheri Fink; Interview With Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg; Boris Johnson Remains in Intensive Care; Bernie Sanders Drops Out of 2020 Presidential Race; David Axelrod, Former Senior Adviser to President Obama, is Interviewed About 2020 President Race; Wuhan, China Ending Lockdown After 76 Days; Norway Says It Has Coronavirus Under Control; Fox News Spreading False Information; Kara Swisher, Editor- at-Large, Recode, and Carl Cameron , Former Chief White House Correspondent, Fox News, Are Interviewed About Fox News. Aired 2 -3p ET
Aired April 8, 2020 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
Bernie Sanders drops out of the 2020 presidential race leaving the field open for Joe Biden to face off against Donald Trump in November. This as
the United States braces for a painful week ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: If one person dies, that's a painful week and we know that's going to unfortunately happen. This is a monster we're
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: But in Europe, Norway says it's already got coronavirus under control. I ask the prime minister about lifting the lockdown.
Plus, misinformation and the media in the age of coronavirus. A frank discussion on the dangers with leading digital journalist, Kara Swisher,
and former Fox correspondent, Carl Cameron.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. SHERI FINK, CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: The hospital was sort of trying everything, pulling out all the stops to try to serve the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Journalist, Dr. Sheri Fink, gives our Hari Sreenivasan an eyewitness report inside the beleaguered New York hospitals battling this
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour coming to you from home in London, where the Prime Minister Boris Johnson remains in
intensive care for the third day battling this coronavirus disease while the government says he is improving and responding to treatment.
Few expect Britain to end its lockdown any time soon and the United States also is bracing for a difficult period as the pandemic continues to surge
across the nation. But the presidential race is back in the spotlight as Senator Bernie Sanders announces that he is suspending his campaign for the
Democratic nomination, leaving the field now to Joe Biden. Joining us to discuss this is David Axelrod who senior adviser to President Barack Obama.
David Axelrod, welcome to the program.
How do you assess this has happened right now? What will it do for the race, do you think?
DAVID AXELROD, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it is important for technical reasons. Now, for example, the Democratic National
Committee can actually pool in with Biden and bring all its resources to him and raise money jointly and talk to him about convention planning, be
it virtual or actual conventions.
And so, there are a wealth of things that will flow to him. But it's also - - it ends any ambiguity about the race. It's been clear since March 17th, Super Tuesday, that the race was effectively over. Biden took a 300-
delegate lead in that -- on that day, the last big primary day. And Sanders has been mulling over his campaign.
Since then, his supporters had wanted him to stay in the race, press forward, press his agenda forward. He tried to strike a halfway position
today by suspending his race by saying he'll still accumulate delegates and use them to leverage policy positions that he supports. But effectively,
the race is over today.
AMANPOUR: So, let me just actually play this little bit of his speech which goes to the point you just made.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): While this campaign is coming to an end, our movement is not. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us that, "the arc of
the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice." The fight for justice is what our campaign has been about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)-
AMANPOUR: So, David, I just want you to just sort of describe for me what you consider that tone to be. On the one hand, suspending the campaign, on
the other hand, saying he's going to try to keep accumulating delegates, as many as possible, to be able to leverage that for their positions at the
convention. I mean, is that the kind of tone? Did he have to do that for his supporters?
AXELROD: Yes, I think that's --
AMANPOUR: What do you make of the last bit there? What --
AXELROD: Look, I think Bernie Sanders supporters are very, very passionate. They're passionate for the causes he has articulated. Universal
health care and a variety of other things that have been -- the essence of his campaign and they are not enthusiastic or many of them aren't about
throwing in with Biden right now. And Sanders, I think, struck a halfway posture today by saying, we are ending our campaign, the fight continues.
But at some point, if he, as he states, believes that's an existential matter to defeat President Trump, then he's going to have to come forward
with a more affirmative embrace of Joe Biden and make an active case to his supporters that they should also join in.
I commented on this today on Twitter and was bombarded by tweets, many of which I wouldn't repeat here from his supporter who are unhappy at that
suggestion. But the truth of the matter is, Bernie Sanders doesn't want -- he got some blame the last time, some deserved, some not for the result of
the election. He does not want Donald Trump to win and have it be said that he did not do what he could to bring his supporters along, and I expect
we'll hear that.
And you did hear, Christiane, was him referring to Biden as a decent man. Whatever amnesty existed between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in 2016
doesn't seem to be here and that may make it easier for him to take the next step.
AMANPOUR: Well, it's going to be important because we hear from President Trump's side, obviously, that they are banking on a divided Democratic
Party and that is going to be a big part of their -- you know, their campaign strategy. And we have heard Biden already today reach out to
Bernie Sanders and to his supporters.
But I want to ask you something. Do you expect to see Joe Biden now as a de facto only nominee to come out and be more active even in this time, not
politically add homonym but to make some policy use of this period when President Trump is being criticized a lot for the state and the nature of
his briefings, how he's handling the situation, the -- you know, the misspeaks and all the rest of it from the podium?
AXELROD: Yes, there's been a lot of frustration about the perceived passivity of Biden. I have some sympathy for him. It is not easy to break
through in this news environment even if you're the nominee. He doesn't have an official role. He is not a member of the Congress. He is not a
governor. He is not president. And so, it's hard to intervene and get covered, and you have to be creative about doing it. But I think there's
going to be more pressure on him to find other ways to intervene and be heard in this race.
At some level, Christiane, this is all about Donald Trump now, though. And it's -- you know, how he handles this crisis will very much determine his
fate, Joe Biden's fate and the fate of this election. And so, there's a limited amount that Biden can do. But certainly, I expect him to do a
little bit more than he's done to date.
AMANPOUR: Well, we'll see how this transpires. It is an extraordinary campaign suspended, kind of, in this coronavirus time. David Axelrod, thank
you so much indeed.
AXELROD: Good to be with you.
AMANPOUR: Even as the United States continues to battle this virus, there is ever more talk about how to exit the lockdown. Wuhan, China, where this
pandemic began, is now opening up after 76 days of draconian restrictions. And in Europe, some light at the end of this very dark tunnel as Austria
and Denmark say they will slowly begin to open up again. And Norway says that it is now -- it now does have the virus under control and will be
sending children back to school soon.
So how did they do it and what are the lessons learned for a whole world which is in it together? The Norwegian prime minister, Erna Solberg, also
known as Iron Erna joins me now from Oslo.
Prime Minister Solberg, welcome to the program.
I want to ask you how you are doing, how you are working, how is your health, of course, in light of the fact that your counterpart here is in
Erna Solberg, do you hear me, Christiane Amanpour in London?
ERNA SOLBERG, NORWEGIAN PRIME MINISTER: I can hear you. I can't hear the studio. But I can hear you.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, just listen to me then. Thank you for joining me. I want to know how you are doing and how you've managed to work and stave off any
kind of infection, particularly in light of the fact that your British counterpart is in intensive care?
Prime Minister Solberg, can you hear, Christiane Amanpour?
SOLBERG: I can hear you but I can't hear the studio.
AMANPOUR: You don't need to hear the studio. If you can hear me, just answer me. Did you hear my question?
I think we may have some issues. What we're going to try to do is come back to the prime minister and go to our next segment now. So, let us hope that
our guests are ready. It is Skype. We are at home. This is live television, everybody.
So, President Trump's daily press briefings have become a main stay of this coronavirus pandemic. While he keeps tweeting about his high ratings, the
briefings are being criticized by many at home and abroad for confusing messaging and inaccuracies. So, too, is the president's news channel of
choice, and that would be Fox News.
Last week dozens of journalism professors and leading reporters signed an open letter lambasting Fox News for spreading misinformation. So, let's
discuss the important role of the media in this health crisis with the former Fox correspondent, Carl Cameron, and leading tech reporter, Kara
Swisher. She recently wrote an op-ed in "The New York times" called "Fox's Fake News Contagion."
So, Kara Swisher and Carl Cameron, welcome to the program. Can you hear me OK?
KARA SWISHER, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, RECODE: Yes.
CARL CAMERON, FORMER CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, FOX NEWS: Yes, indeed. Thanks very much, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Fantastic. So, let me first start by asking you both to weigh in on the briefings. Let's start there. As I've said, the president's
briefings have high ratings. He keeps reminding everybody about it, but they are being criticized. As a former Fox News correspondent, Carl, do you
agree that there is room to criticize this president at this time for some of the misspeak and some of the other, you know, issues that are coming
from the White House?
CAMERON: Absolutely. And I think that the real dissection of the process will happen after we're out of the pandemic woods. But the media is
definitely a big part of the problem. The main problem really is inexperienced leaders, their arrogance, their denial, their ignorance,
their false pride and their deceit. That's the problem.
Science is difficult. It is a lengthy process and it requires the discovery of facts and that's -- they have to be effective. They have to be safe. And
history shows clearly that wishful thinking and propaganda can end up being a really deadly placebo for real science. It's bad.
AMANPOUR: Carl, just because you are a former Fox News correspondent, do you admit that your former network is, you know, really perpetrating a lot
of this misspeak, even the new press secretary who is a Fox News contributor, you know, she has got so -- we have a Tweet of CNN'S Andrew
Kaczynski collating McEnany's recent comments about coronavirus. I don't know whether you can see it up there but, you know, we won't see
coronavirus coming here. He is doing everything right. Democrats rooting for coronavirus. Et cetera, et cetera. Calls to cancel rallies, just
Democrats trying to hide.
Let me first ask you, is this an encouraging move if we want to get some truth from the White House that she is now the press secretary?
CAMERON: Well, look. I mean, let's be realistic. Questioning or worse, contradicting science in a case like this is horrifying and the media can
be complicit when they're trafficking with what Trump calls his hunches. Fox has done that, for sure.
Some religious leaders are also acting as though that it's not a big deal and they're putting their congregations at risk. This is not something to
be played with lightly. Trump's allies on Fox and a lot of other conservative platforms are literally putting their audiences in mortal
danger. So, the longer this pandemic is prolonged, ignoring safety is every bit more dangerous. And people are talking about maybe we are getting
closer to peaks, maybe we are not, maybe it is a couple more weeks, maybe it's a couple of more months.
Until such time as the scientists revise what were their original prognostications saying, if we don't get it right, it's going to be hard to
flatten the curve. Wishful thinking is very, very dangerous and the media has to be more attentive to what scientists are saying and not saying and
really let the politicians aside. They need to shut up and let science come first.
AMANPOUR: Well, to that end, Kara, before I turn to you, I want to play this mash-up from Fox which basically shows what they've been saying about
this until it really became serious and deaths started to mount up in the United States. This is what was produced by "The Daily Show."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETE HEGSETH: This is one of those cases where the more I learn about coronavirus the less concerned I am. There's a lot of hyperbole.
LOU DOBBS: The national left-wing media playing up fears of the coronavirus.
TOMI LAHREN: The sky is falling because we have a few dozen cases of coronavirus on a cruise ship? I am far more concerned with stepping on a
used heroin needle than getting the coronavirus, but maybe that's just me.
JEANINE PIRRO: It is a virus like the flu. All the talk of coronavirus being so much more deadly doesn't reflect reality.
DR. MARC SIEGEL: This virus should be compared to the flu because at worst, at worst, worst-case scenario could be the flu.
GERALDO RIVERA: The far more deadly, more lethal threat is not the coronavirus, it's the ordinary old flu.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Yikes, yikes, yikes, Kara. I mean, it is actually hard to watch that given what we know about this. So, just give me your, you know,
impression of that and in light of the fact that you sort of kind of went to war, sort of, with Fox News with an op-ed in "the New York times"
entitled that it was scaring your mother or risking your mother's life. Tell me about it.
SWISHER: It was about my mom's experience with it. At the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, right, and I'm -- I read a lot of science stuff so I
was kind of aware of it more so than most people. And so, my mom -- I was worried about it more and more, and my mom calling me and saying things
like, it is just the flu. Those -- everything that was said right there. It was really amazing. It's a Democratic plot. There's nothing to worry about.
You can go out. You don't need to social distance. It's only -- it is going to pass over in the warm weather. She had all this kind of ridiculousness.
And I was like -- you know, my brother's a front-line doctor in San Francisco and we were both like, this is not so. You need to stay in.
You're -- you know, you're in the most risk group. And so, it was -- the column is about this, is my struggle getting her good information because
she was being propagandized by Fox News in the most egregious terms.
And, you know, you can have your -- if she wants to insult Nancy Pelosi or if we want to have a dinner table conversation about whatever the heck is
being spewed on Fox News any good night, that's fine. But this is health information, it needs to be accurate and it's aimed at this audience that
really just believes a lot of these lies, hook, line and sinker.
And so, I was -- that's what I wrote about. I thought it was good thing about a daughter being concerned. Sean Hannity lost his mind because I was
pointing out the obvious, as you can see from those video clips, and sort of attacked on me online, but I don't care. It's fine. Whatever. It's --
I'm protecting my mom and a lot of people have parents like that. And so, I feel like -- I feel good about having written that piece and I hope people
realize what they have been doing and they continue to do, by the way.
AMANPOUR: Let me actually read just a little bit from the piece. This is about your mother.
AMANPOUR: Her primary source of news is Fox. In those days, she was telling me that the COVID-19 threat was overblown by the mainstream news
media. Note, her daughter is in the media. She told me it wasn't going to be that big of a deal. She told me it was just like the flu.
So, what turned her around, if anything did? Does she now believe this is just a hoax and a flu?
SWISHER: Sort of, yes, of course. You know, relentless irritation by me. I just called her all the time and I was a pest. I was a total pest about it
and I've insisted that she stay home. She was going to the restaurant. She went to the theater in the middle of it. I was -- you know, I'm thankfully
-- it's been a couple weeks since then. But she was -- and I kept telling her, Florida was -- because she is in Florida, it was going to a hot spot.
And so, I kept bothering my brother, who's a doctor, kept bothering her about it. And I think, at some point, when one of the -- when Dan Patrick
from Texas said, the elderly have to sacrifice in order to open up the country by Easter, which is this Sunday, I think she'd had it with that.
She was like, I'm not dying for anything. Like, I'm not like sacrificing my life for anybody in that regard, and thought that was kind of crazy.
So, I think -- but at the same time just today -- you know, just today when they're putting out this new line about it's over, the war is over, and
this and that, she was like, oh, good, it is already wrapped up. And I was like, what? No, it hasn't. Like it's increasing in every city and you need
to be careful for the next, at least, month.
So, it just -- it continues. But she definitely is more aware of the information sources and I send her stories almost hourly, essentially.
AMANPOUR: So, let's just say the impact on viewers. And of course, many people of your mother's age and the rest get their news from Fox. But
according to Pew poll, 79 percent of Fox News viewers feel the media has exaggerated the risks of COVID-19 compared with 54 percent for CNN viewers.
And the CBS/YouGov Poll from March shows that nine in 10 Republicans trust the president to give them accurate information about the outbreak compared
to 14 percent of Democrats.
So, as we've seen and we have put the mash-up and in fact, will in a second, but there's a lot of inaccuracies. I want to know from you, Carl,
whether you think, given the way your former network is complicit in this misinformation, whether you think that some media ombudsman are now asking
whether all of us should be much, much more wary of playing the president's briefings live every night and playing maybe afterwards just the most
important bits and not transmitting the stuff that is patently fact checkable and known to be a lie and inaccuracy? What do you make of that
CAMERON: I think that when any politician is contradicting science that politician should be effectively considered a problem. And in this case,
the president is doing that.
And some of the media is doing that and Fox's opinion host particularly. This is difficult for me. I left and there are a handful of really good
journalists, Chris Wallace being an example of that at Fox. It is the opinion hosts and not the journalists that are the problem, and that is a
political issue. This is about science and trying to pretend it is not is deadly, deadly dangerous.
I think that there are actually a lot of journalists who know better. But sadly, much of the media is not -- is no longer journalism first. There was
a time in America where a lot of the networks used to be loss leaders in their news division. Nowadays, news is a commodity. It's a product. It
makes money. It is a business. It needs to have income. And a lot of times what's happening is it's not news, it's the attraction of eyeballs to watch
commercials on cable and on news. That's a fact of business, not science and not pandemic. Listening to politicians who don't know what they're
talking about can be deadly.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And nobody is more complicit in that than Fox News. And let us just -- for all of you, for both of you, I want to put a graphic of some
of the recent inaccuracies from President Trump. And we're doing this explicitly because it's a matter of life and death and there's no
pussyfooting around this. Sorry. This is not a political issue. It is a science issue. It's a life and death issue.
So, on April 7th, President Trump says on hydroxychloroquine, I really think it's a great thing to try. This is chloroquine. Fact check, clinical
tries -- trials are under way but the FDA and top public health officials have not endorsed Trump's view that the drug can be taken safely. March
30th, we have done more tests by far than any country in the world, by far. Fact check, true that the U.S. has done more tests than any other country,
but on a per capita basis, it's way behind Germany, Italy and South Korea.
March 26th on the pandemic. This was something that nobody has ever thought could happen to this country. Fact check, U.S. intelligence community and
public health experts have warned for years that the country was at risk from a pandemic. Experts also warned that the country would face shortages
of critical medical equipment.
Kara, I just want to ask you as a matter of fact, do you think what's happening, which has been a problem for a long time, that reporters often
do on the one hand on the other hand? And we've seen throughout this crisis that almost equal time has been given to this stuff, you know, the fake
stuff, the conspiracy theories, all the rest of it, to the real stuff. And I've talked through the words of professors and other medical officials who
are really fed up with this and they say that the media should stop giving any time much less equal time or significant time to essentially fake
medical information. What do you think? Where is our -- where should the line be?
SWISHER: I read a lot about this with social media because it's been -- you know, it's been my big thing about talking about it and you have to be
very careful. This is the president of the United States speaking. So, you cannot cover the president of the United States. So, it creates a really --
I don't think anyone ever contemplated a president of the United States that would lie this much. I think that's really the problem. And what you
have to do is figure how to deal it in a way where you can broadcast some of it and then fact check it very quickly, but the lies are so quick. And
once they get out there, especially on social media, it is hard to pull them back.
I'm not sure what to do without just suppressing speech and say in that way, I have a problem with that too. I think it's not -- you know, I think
what happened in the election early when they had all the rallies and they broadcast Trump without any kind of filter was a real problem. And I think
here's a very good example of doing that.
And what's interesting is social media is actually doing a very good job of cutting out the lies, which I think is interesting. In this case, they're
able to do that especially stuff around a drug use and magical thinking drugs and things like that. And so, you got to wonder how you can do it
properly when there's just such a flood of it and also preserve free speech.
AMANPOUR: It's really, really critical. And, Carl, it is not news to you or frankly, to anybody watching when I say, we've kind of been there before
in a life and death situation when Fox News really was, you know, real cheerleader for the Iraq War, talking about weapons of mass destruction and
all the rest of it, there was no evidence to that, and the nation went to war under George W. Bush.
And now, we know that at Fox News, behind the scenes, they're Lysoling (ph), they're taking all the precautions they need to take. So, I just
wonder whether you think there's anything more the networks should do to maybe rein in some of the opinion hosts, as you say. Because, of course,
people like Chris Wallace and the journalists are exceptional people and exceptional journalists, but there's a huge amount of weight given to the
pundits, to the opinion hosts.
CAMERON: There's a disparity and that's a great problem. Faith and belief and hope are wonderful things, but they are entirely ethereal. Science is a
hard rock stone and it takes a long time to be correct. There are brilliant people all over the world working day and night to find treatment and
vaccinations. Every day we don't have a vaccination, and to this date we do not. It's a 18-month wait before we get a vaccination.
It is instructive to note -- you mentioned South Korea. The United States and South Korea had their first confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the same
date in January. South Korea took care of their people and they locked down. The United States still isn't. That's a political problem. It is not
a matter of science. It is bad, ill-informed leadership working on faith and hope, ethereal, not hard science.
AMANPOUR: And tragically, of course, many, many people in those states that haven't been locked down are still gathering in mega churches and we
don't know what's going to be the result of that on this Easter weekend coming up.
Carl Cameron and Kara swisher, thank you so much for joining me on this really important topic.
And now we're going to return to the Norwegian prime minister, Erna Solberg, because talking about vaccines and other science and actual-fact
based government policies, they have been there and they have been done it.
She's joining me from Oslo. And let's take this again.
Prime Minister Solberg, thank you for joining me.
Can you tell me how you're doing and your reaction to your British counterpart, still in intensive care?
SOLBERG: Well, first of all, I think we all want to wish Boris best of luck, and hope that he is back in office soon.
I think this is -- of course, it's difficult to see. It is unpredictable how things develop. But we hope to see Boris back and in charge in Britain
So, we are just -- will ask him to have a -- I hope that he will have a quick recovery after this.
What we see now in Norway is, of course, that we have managed to get the reproduction number down below one. That means that everyone who has become
ill is not infecting more than one person, is infecting less than one person.
And that means that we are feeling that we are in control of the development. That does not mean that we can relax. But it means that we can
relax a little bit in some of the strongest measures we have had.
We have been closing down schools. We have been closing down a lot of person-to-person businesses for 26, 27 days now. We will continue for one-
and-a-half week. But then we will open kindergartens again, and we will open the first to fourth grade at schools.
So, look, it is really important, what you mentioned. That's the WHO statistic. As long as you can get your reinfection rate to one or lower,
that means that it's pretty much under control. And your government has said you have got this matter under control.
So, kindergartens, what other things might open? And what is your plan B if another spike shows itself? What will you do?
SOLBERG: Well, we -- we have said is, we will do the opening carefully, and we will monitor the development.
Of course, there's a lag between when we do a decision and when we see the results. It's up to two to three weeks, because that's the time from you
get infected until you really need medical -- medical assistance at the hospital. And that's where we really do see the numbers.
And that means that we will do it slowly. But we are starting with opening, as I said, kindergartens, one to fourth grade, in schools in the 20th of
April and 27th of April.
We are opening person-to-person businesses meaning hairdresser and some of the medical assistance that has been down to more video consultations.
Those type of businesses will open, under strict rule of sanitation.
And we are now working with the associations to make a system of how they can make sure that they can keep type of social distancing, type of
sanitation and cleaning systems, so that they are making -- it's possible to not -- not make sure that they're infecting other persons while -- while
we are opening this.
Of course, our economy has been hit by the close-down for -- for 26 to 27 days. We have the highest number of unemployed people on a short-term basis
since -- well, since the `30s, in fact.
But most of these are temporarily unemployed, and they have a job to go back to when the activity starts back again.
Very quickly, what would you say is the reason for you having to -- having this under control so relatively quickly? What did you do in the beginning
that led you to this point, way before many other countries?
SOLBERG: I think we -- first of all, we have monitored very closely all of those who have become ill, those who came back from winter holidays in hot
spots like Northern Italy and Austria.
That was a big number of people that had been on ski holidays there. And when we saw that the numbers of people who -- that they become -- there
were patients coming saying that they had -- they didn't know when where they had gotten the disease.
Then we closed down schools. We closed down a lot of activities in our country. We closed down a lot of small businesses and said that you cannot
-- when you do person-to-person business, when you are -- then we have to close down the activities.
Of course, everything of concerts, matches in football, all of the sports events was closed down quite rapidly. That means that it's not allowed, in
fact, for people to be more than five people gathering together outdoors in Norway.
And we have told people that you should not -- the children should not have more than one or two stable friends to make sure that they do not
contaminate each other and that there is an inside families and that there are -- people who are sick, you really have to stay at home.
But we have not closed down all shops. We have made sure that some of the activity continues.
AMANPOUR: OK. OK.
So, now to the treatments and the vaccines. You have heard that President Trump has been touting chloroquine. And, certainly, a rather iconoclastic
French doctor has been behind all of this, the chloroquine treatment.
Do you believe in chloroquine? And what are you doing? Because I know Norway is working very hard on a treatment that's soon to get human trials
and also on a vaccine. Tell me about that.
Well, first of all, I believe that it's not politicians, it is the scientists who have to decide what is the good medicine. So, we are
sponsoring a large program with the World Health Organization.
It is led by a Norwegian, but they are working with trials of different types of medication around in different countries around the world, under
the leadership of the World Health Organization, so that we can see which type of medicines can, in fact, stop the disease, which can make the impact
lower during a period where people are sick, so that we get a really scientific basis for that.
And then, of course, one of the things we really are working on is to make sure that we have vaccines in the future. And together with Germany and
Ghana, after the Ebola crisis, we took the initiative to establish a large coalition on -- against epidemics and pandemics to build vaccines and
system of cooperation for that.
And we have been funding that. And we see a lot of other countries now joining up. The G20 and the G7 did -- also spoke out for financing, what we
call the CEPI program for vaccines.
And they have about eight different vaccines that is now on the start of the trial. And if they are successful, of course, we see some hope that we
can control this virus in the future.
AMANPOUR: So, clearly, you have put a lot of thought, a lot of public policy into being prepared, or as prepared as you can be.
And I know you believe, like many of saying, like the U.N. is saying and others, that there needs to be a global response to this and to any future
outbreak of any future disease.
What do you make of President Trump criticizing the WHO, saying that it was way too in hock to China and that -- even talking about potentially
SOLBERG: Well, I think we have to build up the World Health Organization in the future to make sure they even more rapidly can respond to crisis,
because this is a pandemic that is worldwide.
We have to -- global problems have to be solved on a global level. And we need cooperation and not every country for themselves. That means that we
have to work together. And I really believe that the World Health Organization has turned itself around after the Ebola crisis.
It's been transformed. It's moving faster. It's doing more to enable also poor countries to build up a better health system and be more prepared for
this. So, I think it is a wrong decision to say we should have less global response. We should have more global response on this.
AMANPOUR: And let me ask you, because you talk about global response and coordination, but even you guys in the Nordic region have not really
coordinated your strategies.
Many of you have closed borders, yes. But, for instance, right next door to you -- we're going to put up a graphic now -- Sweden has not done the
lockdown you have. And there's been a higher fatality, sadly, a high rate of deaths there.
Can you tell me what you think about that? Are you afraid of Sweden not closing its border? There's so much movement. Look at the yellow. Look at
all the indicators for Sweden compared to Norway there.
Are you concerned, with all the cross movement between Sweden and Norway, that this could negatively impact you?
SOLBERG: We do have a border control. And you cannot go from Sweden to Norway without a quarantine afterwards.
That's what we are doing to all countries that come in now to get a grip on the whole pandemic part. If you have work here, if you are a close border
worker, you will have except from this, but on the rest of the level, we do have a quarantine system also for Swedes coming to Norway.
But I think they are moving towards much more of the same type of measures that we have done. We -- maybe we were in -- and, look, we were a bit lucky
that we got the big influx of people from -- who had been on ski holidays in the Alps.
That helped us with seeing the problem very early and possible to start to do stronger measures. We did this decisive action quite rapidly in Norway,
because we had high numbers of people coming from their winter holiday and being sick.
So maybe that gave us a different way into this crisis, seeing that the numbers were high, but also managing to stop it quite early.
AMANPOUR: And, finally, you gave a conference, a press conference sort of, to children back on March 20.
Why did you do that? And what would you say to children or, in fact, adult who are afraid right now?
SOLBERG: Well, first of all, I would like to say that this, of course, it's -- I think it's fair, it's OK to be scared.
This is a disease that is difficult for people who have illnesses, who are elderly. But it can also hurt other people. But, on the other hand, it's
something that we will get through.
And I think it's important to tell everybody that we are honest about the challenge that this gives us, but also the fact that, when we work
together, if we manage to use all of these hygienical advice that is getting, washing your hands, using the antibac, all of these things, and
telling children to do that is important, because they sometimes learn their parents to behave better also.
And we think it's important to communicate to children, because they're afraid. When we close schools, they will be more afraid, because they're
not together with the teachers in a teaching situation to learn more about this.
And we will, in fact, have a new press conference for children just after Easter holiday, because now we are moving towards opening schools again.
And we will talk to the children about that. And we think children should feel that they are taken serious in a crisis like this.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Yes.
Honesty and transparency and reassuring.
Thank you so much, indeed. Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg.
Now, in this war, hospitals are the front line. And nurses, doctors, medics, all those workers are the soldiers.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and doctor Sheri Fink is shining a light on the harrowing day-to-day work at the Brooklyn Hospital Center. She
wrote a best selling book about Hurricane Katrina, and she's an executive producer of the timely Netflix docuseries "Pandemic," which was released
early January and before COVID reached the West.
She talks to our Hari Sreenivasan about the tough ethical questions facing doctors right now.
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dr. Fink, for people who might not have read your recent piece in "The New York Times," describe
some of the scenes that you're chronicling at the hospital in Brooklyn.
DR. SHERI FINK, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": It's really not a hospital in normal times. It feels to me more like a hospital that I would have visited during
I spent some time up in the intensive care unit. And that is -- as this pandemic has gone on, as people have had that time, those unlucky people
who have the more severe illness, it takes some time before that shows up.
And so that -- last week, when I was there, that is sort of where the crisis or the pressure point had shifted, was this intensive care unit had
essentially doubled. So they had 18 patients. They were now treating twice as many. And they were not all in the ICU, because the ICU only had 18
So they had taken over other parts of the hospital. There was an area that used to be for chemotherapy infusions, if you needed to come in as an
outpatient to get that treatment. That was now an ICU.
And it was also not just the physical space, but also the staff. About 30 percent of the doctors, the nurses were out sick. And with all of these
additional patients who had very critical care needs, they had brought in people from all over the hospital to help.
There were -- in the intensive care unit, there was a podiatry doctor, a doctor who specializes in treating the feet. And two of her resident
physicians, they were helping out. There was a neurosurgery physician assistant. So it was not business as usual.
But the team was -- or the hospital was sort of trying everything, pulling out all the stops to try to serve the additional patients.
SREENIVASAN: Do the doctors that you're profiling, working with, watching, do they have enough protective gear?
FINK: Unfortunately, they're -- they're -- no, they don't have a lot of protective gear. They have run out of things at times.
Last week, it was the plastic gowns, so they were having to use substitutes, cloth gowns that they felt weren't perhaps as protective from
splashes and whatnot, obviously, the masks that we all know have been in short supply.
So they're constantly getting -- they're getting resupplied, they're getting donations, but they're consuming a lot because -- and I have seen
it. Any time they go into a room with a patient who has COVID, there's a need to put on this protective gear.
And so they're even trying to reuse some of that gear, which they wouldn't be in a normal circumstance. So this is a problem. And there have been many
cases of health workers getting sick themselves.
Of course, that could be happening out in the community. But I think there's a good understanding that a lot of these health workers have been
infected in the health care facilities in New York.
SREENIVASAN: Given that you have reported from disaster zones before, what surprised you about what's happening at the ICU in New York City?
FINK: I think the big difference is that, when it's a hurricane, it's a discrete event. And, of course, there is all of that time after where
things are not normal, where it takes some time to get back to normalcy, where there can be power outages.
But this is something that is expected to be so long. When I was there last week, we were not at the peak yet. And so this was an incredible effort to
-- what they call in hospital parlance to surge, with the knowledge that they would most likely be continuing that, expanding that, because,
remember, for that small proportion of people who do get critically ill, it can take sometimes a couple of weeks of intensive care before someone can
So that means, as more people are coming in, you're going to have to keep expanding that space, expanding capacity, because you're not getting people
out as quickly as they're coming in.
SREENIVASAN: At that point, if patients are going to have to spend so long in the ICU and perhaps on a ventilator, that's a limited and a precious
How are doctors making the decision on who gets a ventilator and who does not?
FINK: Well, so far, they are able to provide that to everybody who needs it and wants that type of care.
But they are having those discussions. And, of course, there has been this discussion for years, if there ever were to be a pandemic, which now we
have, there was real knowledge amongst people who study this kind of thing, people in medicine, people in emergency preparedness, that we just simply
don't have that many ventilators. We don't have that many critical care beds.
Obviously, even in a bad flu season, our intensive care units can get very stressed. So there have been discussions about, what would be the right way
to choose, if you had to choose?
Doctors at this hospital are looking at some of the work that's been done in terms of how you would possibly make decisions like that in the most
But, at the same time, they have worked hard to get additional ventilators. They have also been -- they have a simulation lab, and they're simulating
this sort of risky, but potentially possible way to go, which would be to have one ventilator treat two patients.
They're not sure how well that will work. But they're kind of pulling out all the stops to try to prevent having to make some really tragic choices.
SREENIVASAN: Is there a guidebook for this?
I mean, how do you make a decision? Is it based on my preexisting conditions, my age? Do I get a bunch of points? I mean, how do I score when
I'm in the hospital?
FINK: So there have been different groups.
And by groups, I mean at hospitals, at -- on a state level, and even groups that have gone out to the public to ask, how should we do this? Because, in
fact, it's not really a question of medicine only. It's also a question of values.
And I would say most of the plans that have been drawn up or guidelines -- and there are many of them, there's not just one -- they would have some
effort to figure out who both needs that resource and is most likely to benefit from it.
So, sometimes, doctors can use a scoring system. It's a scoring system for critical care that assesses how sick somebody is, never meant to be used to
ration ventilators. But at least it's some sort of objective criteria.
But, as you said, some of these plans incorporate things that are big areas of debate, whether age should be a factor. And there are different ethical
arguments on both sides of that -- whether somebody's preexisting conditions should factor into it. In other words, what is their long-term
chance of surviving?
Should you try to not only save the most lives, but the most years of life? And that gets a little bit tricky, because, of course, people who have
chronic conditions may -- that may group with certain socioeconomic statuses or racial backgrounds.
And so you don't want to be -- you, the person deciding, doesn't want to be perpetuating inequities.
SREENIVASAN: In your 2013 book, "Five Days at Memorial," you chronicled what happened after Hurricane Katrina at Memorial Hospital
That was a harrowing experience for everyone involved. How did they decide, how did they come to those conclusions on how to ration care when they
realized a helicopter could only hold so many people, and we have got a lot of patients and a lot of staff here to evacuate?
FINK: So, I think that that event was, I think, what got a lot of people in the health care world to start thinking about these issues.
And there were two issues there, actually. One was, you have got a hospital surrounded by water. They knew that all power could fail at any time if the
water got too high, just because of where their electrical system was.
And so helicopters were coming. They could take one or two patients at a time. There were almost 300 patients. So that was that question of, who do
you rescue first in a situation like that? And at that time, they hadn't been -- put thought into that. It was an ad hoc decision in the moment.
They did the best they could.
They sort of looked at who would be most endangered if the power failed and tried to get those patients out first. But they also made some decisions
about who would go last, that, when the power failed, it became a very desperate situation, and some of the sickest patients were still in the
Then there was that second ethical choice that happened, which is, what do we do if we believe that some of the patients are not going to make it?
And, as people might remember, this was that famous case where, about a year after the storm, a doctor and two nurses were arrested and accused by
the attorney general of second-degree murder, of intentionally hastening the deaths of their patients in that very desperate circumstance.
They have always maintained their innocence, but I have interviewed some doctors who told me that they themselves had intentionally hastened the
deaths of their patients. And that was a separate issue, a very -- that had a lot of ethical and legal implications.
And, certainly, expert groups that have looked at that situation and have said that, even in the midst of a crisis, that we don't want to cross that
line as health professionals, but, of course, very, very difficult circumstances.
SREENIVASAN: So what does the industry learn from Hurricane Katrina moving forward? How did it change? How did we better prepare?
FINK: I think that one thing can be said for sure, which is that there was more attention to this concept of preparing our nation's health
institutions for a crisis, for an emergency.
And so there was more of a recognition that that was important. And, in fact, it took many years, over a decade, but the CMS, Centers for Medicare
and Medicaid Services, actually had a new rule that came into effect a couple of years ago that required a level of emergency preparedness for all
health care provider types who accept Medicare, who participate in that program, which is the vast majority of them.
But those were really minimum standards. And, as we're seeing now, there are big weaknesses in the preparedness of our health institutions for an
emergency, whether it is the fact that they run on tight margins, they're ordering supplies just as they need to use them, and -- which, as we see,
in a pandemic, when everybody else is ordering the same thing, we're getting into these shortage situations that we're seeing now.
SREENIVASAN: One of the narratives that comes from the White House almost daily is that no one could have seen this coming, no one could have
expected such a surge in need for ventilators.
And yet you're saying that the community -- the medical community has been thinking about this for quite some time.
FINK: Oh, it's more than the medical community.
I mean, this is one of the federal government's main planning scenarios. So, our country has certain scenarios planning for rare, but potentially
catastrophic and foreseeable emergencies that we may face as a country.
And pandemics are right up there in the top group. The prediction for ventilator shortages has -- it's been known by everybody. In fact, the
federal government issued grants to try to develop a pandemic ventilator for many years.
And that -- some of my colleagues wrote a story about how that plan didn't, unfortunately, provide us enough ventilators in time. But this is a very
well-known -- I mean, any expert in emergency preparedness, federal, state, local hospital level, this -- it's very evident that this was planned for,
this was -- the things that we're seeing now that are problems were known issues.
For years, people have been talking about them. The problem is, we didn't do enough to address them as a country.
SREENIVASAN: We have seen some of the images of the 18-wheelers, the semis that are outside, the makeshift morgues. It's pretty shocking to see in a
city like New York, with hospitals who otherwise have resources.
What can you tell us about that?
FINK: So, I think that those refrigerated trailers have been distributed by the city's office of medical -- the medical examiner's office, and it's
for a couple of reasons.
One is, yes, the number of deaths are increasing. That's more than hospitals have -- are used to handling. There are more deaths.
Another problem is that the funeral homes are overburdened, and they're not picking up bodies at the same rate. We have heard some stories of -- from
hospitals, saying the funeral homes aren't coming at all if it's a COVID patient. I think that varies.
And then there's a backup at the medical examiner's office too. They're not able to pick up those trailers yet. They haven't been to any great extent,
is my understanding. They have asked for help from the federal government, the state government.
So there's a backup, and those trailers have to stay in front of the hospitals. And they added more trailers just to hold the bodies, until they
can be dealt with at a mortuary. And so that's in the process of being set up. And it's been delayed.
And there's a lot of consternation about it, because, of course, when somebody dies, there is a desire to treat them with respect and for their
families to have that chance to say goodbye.
So this is another very difficult element right now.
SREENIVASAN: Do you think that we will ever know how many people were actually well killed by COVID-19, considering that what we're talking about
are the number of deaths through hospitals that were officially registered?
But people who don't perhaps have access or who die at home, how does that number ever get tabulated?
FINK: I feel like we don't have a good sense of the numbers. And some of my colleagues have reported on that just in the last few days, just the
problems with counting, the various ways that bodies are counted, the way that a death is attributed, the cause of death.
There is some guidance now from the CDC that, if it is an emergency that that death appears to be related to, that that's important to document that
on a death certificate. But we see, for example, in New York City, where the -- some of the people who are dying, very consistent stories, with
likely COVID, but they haven't had a chance to be tested, that those bodies aren't being tested at postmortem.
And that is a problem with really understanding the full scope of this pandemic. But it's been the situation where the testing has not been
available for people who are alive, people in the hospital.
This hospital I have been reporting at has been waiting -- until they could do their testing about a week ago, been waiting about a week to get results
back from a commercial lab in California.
That means it's very hard for doctors to treat them. It's hard to separate them within the hospital and know who's sick, who's not sick.
This has been a -- yet another impact of not having that testing capacity in this country is the problem with knowing how many people have died of
SREENIVASAN: Dr. Sheri Fink, correspondent for "The New York Times," thanks so much for joining us.
FINK: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And, indeed, the story of the incredible burden on doctors and all the medical workers has been the story of this pandemic as well, from
China to the United States to Italy.
But, finally, there is a glimmer of hope for Italy. Whilst the number of infections does still go up, they are starting to slow. And that is good
news. The country has been the worst hit by the pandemic, and yet the Italian spirit remains unbowed.
Now the fashion magazine "Vogue Italia" says its next issue will have a completely white cover. They call it an act of solidarity with their fellow
citizens at this extremely difficult time.
Emanuele Farneti used his letter from the editor to explain.
This is what he said: "White is, first of all, respect. White is rebirth, the light after darkness, the sum of all colors. White is the color of the
uniforms worn by those who put their lives on the line to save ours. Above all, white is not surrender, but a black sheet waiting to be written, when
-- the title page of a new story about to begin."
Another illustration of new stories about to begin is this stunning picture of the supermoon over London, and another of the moon peeking out through
the cherry blossoms right on my doorstep.
It's important in these times to take a moment to appreciate the world around us, these signs of life and the little things that make us smile.
And that's it for our program tonight. Thanks for watching, and goodbye from London.