Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Trump Refuses to Take Questions At Briefing, Day After Discussing Disinfectant Injections to Fight Coronavirus; Top Admiral Recommends Captain Be Reinstated After Former Navy Secretary Fired Him For Coronavirus Warning; Top Admiral Recommends Captain Be Reinstated After Former Navy Secy Fired Him For Coronavirus Warning; The Search For A Coronavirus Vaccine; Remembering Jonathan Coelho. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired April 24, 2020 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
This was a critical day in the ongoing coronavirus crisis, states beginning to reopen, despite doctors and scientists warning them not to. Today, the death toll passed 51,000 in this country. It would have been a good day to be able to ask questions to top scientists in this country dealing with coronavirus and to our leaders. That's what you might expect on a momentous day like this.
But that is not what happened this evening at the coronavirus task force briefing. We were not allowed to ask questions. The nation's top scientist, Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx, who were not even there because the president of the United States was afraid to take questions today during the coronavirus task force briefing.
He took questions earlier today and lied, lied in such an obvious and blatant way, he knew he would be called on it this evening. So he cut and ran.
The president of the United States did not answer one single question at his coronavirus briefing and, again, Doctors Fauci and Birx were not even there. He read a few prepared remarks handed over to the FDA commissioner, who took a single question and then the vice president, who didn't take any. And then, they all left.
It has been a stunning 24 hours in the life and lies of this administration. A dangerous a disturbing debacle of the president's own making.
This all began at the briefing last night. The president, using out loud, to Dr. Deborah Birx and Bill Bryan, the acting homeland security under secretary about using ultraviolet light or other kinds of light internally, inside our bodies, to kill coronavirus and also musing about injecting disinfectant into humans to kill the virus, bleach, sanitizer, Lysol, things that kill viruses on surfaces but should never, ever be injected into anyone or swallowed by anybody, as just about everybody knows.
So here is what the president said. Not taken out of context.
His actual words to a DHS official, Bill Bryan. This is last night at the coronavirus task force briefing. Bill Bryan is seated off to his right, off camera.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So I asked Bill a question that probably some of you are thinking of if you are totally into that world which I find to be very interesting. So supposing we hit the body with a tremendous whether it's ultraviolet or just very powerful light and I think you said that hasn't been checked but you are going to test it. And then I said supposing you brought the light inside the body which you can do either through the skin or in some other way and I think you said you were going to test that too. It sounds interesting.
Right. And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number (INAUDIBLE) interesting to check that so that you are going to have to use medical doctors with but it sounds -- it sounds interesting to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Sounds interesting, he says. This notion of cleaning out the lungs by injecting disinfectant.
What is interesting to him, it almost goes without saying, is toxic to people. And we say almost because the company that makes Lysol was sufficiently troubled by the president's musings, to put out a statement. It was titled "improper use of disinfectants", and in it, the company says, quote: We must be clear under no circumstances should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body through injection, ingestion, or any other route.
The Centers for Disease Control, also, tweeted. And I quote: Household cleaners and disinfectants can cause health problems when not used properly. That's an understatement. Health problems when not used properly.
Yet, the federal government's own Consumer Product Safety Commission was a bit clearer, though a little bit more cartoonish. Quoting now: Cleaning products are poisonous, America, make sure you keep those cleaning products in their original bottles and locked up and out of sight and out of reach of kids. That is Quinn the quarantine fox, by the way.
And, as absurd as it is to imagine a government's spox fox having to remind the president of the obvious, there is nothing funny about any of this. Words, especially the president's words have serious consequences.
Maryland's Emergency Management Agency today had to issue a warning against drinking or injecting disinfectants after the governor said the state's coronavirus hotline received more than 100 calls asking about it. Doctors have weighed in against it, including on our CNN global town hall last night.
Bottom line, what the president said, it is ridiculous. It is dangerous, as any parent has told their child. And it's deeply inappropriate for any president to simply muse, out loud, about whatever thought he has about random experience on human beings.
This morning, instead of acknowledging that concern, or that misstatement, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement, and I quote: Leave it to the media to irresponsibly take President Trump out of context and run with negative headlines. Kind of avoiding the whole bleach-injected elephant in the room.
Keeping them honest, the president heard just what you heard him say. You saw him say it. You heard it with your own ears. In precisely the context we described after acting Under Secretary Bryan gave his talk on what kills viruses in surfaces and in air, not inside the human body.
That's all. That's it. It's in the White House transcript. Doesn't matter, though, because by the time the president went before cameras earlier today, he clearly knew that people were outraged by his dangerous medical musings and were, also, laughing at him in some corners, which, as you likely know, is something this president cannot stand. That hurts him, probably, more than anything.
So, today, he came up with a completely different explanation than his White House spokesperson. He came up with a blatant, boldfaced lie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. President, can you clarify your comments about injections of disinfectant? They're quite provocative.
TRUMP: No, I was asking a question, sarcastically, to reporters like you. Just to see what would happen.
And I was asking the question of the gentleman who was there yesterday, Bill, because when they say that something will last three or four hours, or six hours, but if the sun is out. Or if they use disinfectant, it goes away, less than a minute. Did you hear about this yesterday?
But I was asking a sarcastic -- and a very sarcastic question to the reporters in the room about disinfectant on the inside.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Number one, as you saw, with your own eyes, he was not talking to reporters. He was talking to his scientists. And there was no -- there wasn't an ounce of sarcasm.
And that's what makes this so scary. He was serious. He thought, at the time, he was being smart. He actually even said that in comments later. He pointed to his brain about how, you know, smart he is. The DHS official the president was talking to, he certainly didn't
think it was sarcastic because I want to replay what he said because it's off camera. You can't really hear it well. But just listen to what he says. This is Department of Homeland Security official when the president's telling about the idea of experimenting bringing UV light inside someone's body to kill viruses and injecting them with disinfectant, the president said, you have medical experimentation on humans.
Listen to what the -- the DHS official said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And then I said suppose that you brought the light inside the body, which you can do, either through the skin or in some other way. And I think you said you're going to test that, too. Sounds interesting.
BILL BRYAN, DHS OFFICIAL: We'll get to the right folks who could.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We'll get to the right folks who could, he said. In other words, yes, Mr. President, we'll get right on that. We'll get to the right folks who could.
Who are the right folks, who could use, somehow get light inside your body to destroy viruses? Who are the right folks in the government of the United States who would inject disinfectants, like bleach and stuff, into human beings? Who are those right folks?
Here's how task force coordinator Deborah Birx reacted, as she listened to the president because you kind of need to see her body language. I am going to drop the banner at the bottom of the screen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Suppose that we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it's ultraviolet or just very powerful light and I think you said that hasn't been checked, but you're going to test it. And then I said suppose that you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. And I think you said you're going to test that, too. Sounds interesting.
BRYAN: We'll get to the right folks who could.
TRUMP: Right. And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or -- or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it'd be interesting to check that. So, that, you're going to have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds -- it sounds interesting to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: I mean, he's nodding his head a little less than he was nodding it on the UV light thing but there were some head nods there on the injecting people. He was nodding the head a little bit.
Does Deborah Birx, when you look at her in that, looking down at her hands, not making eye contact, not saying anything, does that look like the face of someone who's in on a supposed sarcastic remark or a joke? Or does it look like a well-respected scientist who is horrified and embarrassed? I think that's what it looks like, doesn't want to contradict the president, but doesn't want to be irresponsible either.
The president likes to use words like strong and powerful, uses those words all the time hoping I guess that they will become synonymous with him. When you think strong and powerful u you'll equate it with him.
But what exactly is powerful about suggesting dumb and dangerous experiments on human beings and then slinking away from answering questions or taking any responsibility for what you have said and then lying about it?
CNN White House correspondent joins us now with more.
Jim, I mean, any details on -- I mean, I know why the president didn't take questions this evening. It's interesting to me that Kayleigh McEnany, you know, the new spokesperson, who is over the top in her, you know, Soviet-like praise of -- or -- or, you know, rewriting of history on things, would say one thing, and, then, the president. They clearly didn't even coordinate their lies.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They didn't, Anderson, and I think we found out today that the president's words have meaning but they are also, at times, hazardous to your health. And I think that was part of what we learned today. And going to your point, Anderson, there just isn't enough disinfectant at the White House to wash away what the president did, and the lies that were told to try to cover it up.
I will tell you, Anderson, one of the reasons why he cut short that briefing earlier this evening, my sources tell me, is because the president was upset about the flak he was taking over his comments. That people could use disinfectants to kill the coronavirus inside their bodies.
But it goes beyond that, Anderson. We're talking to sources in the White House this evening and they are telling us there is a discussion going on about paring down these briefings, limiting these briefings, making better use of these briefings is the way one White House official described it because they feel like the president is getting diminishing returns.
But, Anderson, just to go to show you the Soviet-style, totalitarian- like lengths they were going to this evening, they were trying to rearrange seats in the briefing room. So our colleague, Kaitlan Collins, would be stuck in the back of the briefing room instead of the front of the briefing room.
That print reporter, Chris Johnson, thank goodness for him, refused to get up out of his seat. So it took almost an act of civil disobedience to foil the White House plans. There was a White House official who was saying, we're going to get the Secret Service involved if you guys don't switch seats around. And so, it's bizarre how far they're willing to go.
COOPER: Kaitlan Collins is suddenly a security risk, that the Secret Service will be involved. I mean, that's a good use of Secret Service resources.
ACOSTA: It's remarkable. It's remarkable, Anderson.
And, you know, Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx, they weren't there this evening. We were talking to sources about some of this but I'll tell you, Anderson, talking to our sources, the scientists who are on the president's coronavirus task force, they are leery of publicly disagreeing with this president, to the extent that they're worried about standing behind him and being on camera where their facial expressions can be caught on camera showing, you know, a reaction, one way or the other, to what the president is saying.
And so, it's no wonder inside the White House, they're talking about cutting back on these briefings because they can see, with their own eyes, what the American people are seeing at home. And, that is, the president imploding from time to time on national television when he is just lying about things and riffing about things that, in the case of these disinfectants that he's talking about people injecting in their bodies could be hazardous to people's health.
COOPER: Jim, just to be clear, the history of these briefings started off with it being the vice president and the scientists. And, yes, the vice president constantly said at the direction of the president and made sure to kind of constantly bow and bring the president's -- reference him in many sentences.
And then the president saw the growing popularity of the scientists and the briefings and, therefore, then, you know, big footed his way in and became the centerpiece. The idea that now they're talking about limiting them because they think it's diminishing returns for the president -- I mean, how about just like liberating the scientists to actually just discuss real, raw, factual information? And even the vice president with the American people without the sideshow and let the president have his own briefing if he wants to. Or, you know, White House daily briefing like most White Houses would.
ACOSTA: There's no question, Anderson. The president has turned these Coronavirus Task Force briefings, which started off as a way to get the American people information about this pandemic. President has turned these briefings into his pandemic rallies. And there's no question about it, that there is a public health risk in all of this.
I was talking to a source close to the task force earlier this evening, who compared what the president said yesterday to recommending that people drink bleach at home. Which, by the way, once again, we've said this a million times on CNN since the president made these comments yesterday, people should not use household chemicals in that fashion.
But, Anderson, what kind of bizarre, twilight zone have we been thrust into when we even have to say that about the president of the United States? And so, I suppose, over the weekend, people will be thinking long and hard about the implications of all this. And hopefully some people inside the White House will do as well.
COOPER: Yes, Jim Acosta, stay with us.
I want to bring in CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN chief political correspondent, Dana Bash.
Dana, the president making this very dangerous claim on camera yesterday. Then, today, saying he's being sarcastic. He's just lying about it. I'm wondering -- I mean, we've all seen. It's not surprising, I guess.
But it is just -- it's deeply troubling. I mean, I don't know what sort of adjectives to even use.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, and you always wonder, given the president's propensity for this kind of showmanship and when I say this, I mean the briefings, whether or not when he gets criticism, whether or not it sinks in. I talked to a source who -- an ally of the president, just before coming on, who said, oh, you bet it's sinking in. And that was obvious, as you mentioned, when he stormed out of the press conference.
COOPER: Sinking in where, though? I mean, sinking in what? I mean, like, how thin does it sink?
BASH: It -- that -- first of all, that's a great question. Who knows?
But in the -- in the -- in the here and the now, what happened this evening with the press conference, that's why he didn't take the answers. The source described him, it's like a child who touched the stove and realizes you're going to get burned. You don't go near the stove for a couple of days.
So the question is, how long is he going to, you know, kind of stay away?
The other concern I can tell you, just from the patterns we've talked about, there is concern among some of his allies that he might at least bring up a distraction. That's another part of the Trump playbook. That something is going terribly wrong for him and then he says don't look at this. Look at the red ball over here.
COOPER: Like he's going to ban all immigration. Or, you know -- BASH: Exactly. And there is concern among some that he might play that
playbook and that is the last thing people around him want him to do, given the obvious intensity and scary situation that we're in of this pandemic.
COOPER: Yes, Sanjay, I mean, the fact that the CDC had to put out guidance about the proper use of disinfectants. Again, just from a medical standpoint, I mean, this is dangerous.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We're -- we're one of the top countries in the world when it comes to basic science research, Anderson.
I mean, some of the people that we're talking about that are in that room, Ambassador Birx, Tony Fauci, they weren't there today. But, you know, people who are on his task force. Stephen Hahn was the head of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, one of the most renowned cancer centers in the world. And this is what we're talking about.
I mean, it is -- it is a shame. You know, I can't even believe it. These -- these -- all these folks have more important stuff to be doing, obviously, in the midst of a pandemic. The entire world is sort of pinning their hopes on what these scientists are able to do, in terms of therapeutics, in terms of vaccines, in terms of figuring out how to best test, how to contact trace, all the things that we should be talking about.
And they got sidelined and sidetracked by this whole thing. It's -- it's really quite shocking. I'm reminded of that term. I can't remember -- I think it's reality distortion field, when you were playing that clip of President Trump talking to the DHS official. I mean, respond that way, why? Is there some sort of reality distortion that goes on in that room? I don't know.
Everybody knows it was a bad idea to be suggesting that disinfectant be ingested or injected in some way. And, yet, they didn't seem to respond that way. So it's -- it's -- it's a waste of time is what it is.
COOPER: You know, Jim Acosta, I remember James -- James Comey wrote, in his book, about the dinner he had with the president, of course, before he was fired. And he writes about, you know, and my memory of this, I read it a long time ago.
But I just remember him writing about his concern about does he nod? Because if he's nodding, does it -- or if he remains silent, does the president view that as acquiescence? And people around the president have to think about do you respond? If you stay silent, are you then co-opted? And that's something these scientists probably have to figure out every single day.
ACOSTA: And, Anderson, that is one of the sad lessons we have seen throughout the Trump presidency, is that as he attacks different segments of American society, whether it be the press, the justice system, the intelligence community, now he's going after the scientists, who are the people that speak out and say, no, this will not stand?
And I would tell you, talking to our sources, there is a real concern among scientists if they speak out publicly against what the president's saying, that they'll be thrown out of the ball game and then you lose that expertise. The American people lose that expertise and that is, obviously, you know, what some of these scientists are thinking. In they disagree with the president publicly, they may get tossed off the task force. And then what happens to the task force?
But no question about it, Anderson. What we saw at the end of this week was sort of like turning 2020 into a sequel of 1984. I mean, it just -- it defies all credulity, you know?
And it's just difficult to get your mind around what we just witnessed. But I talked to a Trump advisor earlier today who said I wanted to hide after hearing what the president said. So even people inside the president's own orbit understand how badly he messed things up yesterday, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, Comey was talking about the lies Washington view (ph) I think was his term.
Sanjay, Dana Bash, Jim Acosta, thank you very much.
Coming up next, more breaking news. The aircraft carrier captain relieved of his command after blowing the whistle on the coronavirus outbreak raging on his ship. What the Navy is now saying about possibly reinstating him.
And later, a young husband's love note to his wife and family before coronavirus took him far too soon.
COOPER: There's breaking news tonight on Captain Brett Crozier who received a hero sendoff after he was stripped of his command of the carrier Theodore Roosevelt.
Captain Crozier was fired after warning of coronavirus outbreak that was spreading throughout the ship. As of today, 856 sailors have tested positive for the virus. Huge uproar ensued.
The acting Navy secretary who swung the axe was, himself, subsequently fired after calling Captain Crozier either naive or stupid. Now, the Navy is recommending he be reinstated at the TR's helm.
Barbara Starr joins us now with more.
So, what is the status of the naval recommendation tonight?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good evening, Anderson. Earlier today, the head of the U.S. Navy, four-star admiral, Michael
Gilday, recommended to the defense secretary that Crozier be reinstated to his command of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt and be in charge of the nearly 5,000 people onboard that carrier.
But Esper did not expect the recommendation, at least not yet. Esper is saying he wants to read the whole investigation report. And make sure it's, you know, his aids his aides are saying he wants to make sure it's thorough and comprehensive, and then he'll decide if he's going to accept the recommendation to reinstate Crozier.
But, to be very clear, that is not the way the day started out. Here, at the Pentagon, the word was out that that recommendation was going to be made, and there was every expectation that Esper was going to accept it.
COOPER: Any sense of what -- so the calculus for Secretary Esper would be?
STARR: Well, you know, we don't know. You know, is he going to accept it? It will be a real test of whether or not he has confidence in the Navy leadership. And he is willing to accept their recommendation after they investigated it.
What the big unknown, Anderson, is whether there is any White House calculus in this. Is it that Secretary Esper wants to run this past the White House, and see if President Trump wants to get involved? We've seen him get involved in Pentagon matters before. And, tonight, there's really no answer to that.
COOPER: And what about the sailors on board who had the virus? Do we know the latest on their condition?
STARR: Well, as you said, more than 800 now have tested positive. Very sadly, one did pass away from the virus. Captain Crozier, himself, tested positive. But we are told, in the last day or so, he is no longer in isolation in Guam.
It's really interesting. The Pentagon and Centers for Disease Control have a medical investigation going on right now, trying to figure out how that virus spread so widely through that ship. More than 800 sailors testing positive, and this is really the biggest outbreak the U.S. military has seen so far. They're asking for help from the CDC, in trying to figure out exactly what transpired.
COOPER: Barbara Starr, appreciate it. Thanks very much.
COOPER: Joining us now, friend of the captain's, former naval aviator, Brett Odom.
Brett, thanks so much for being with us. I know you have been in touch with Captain Crozier today since the news broke.
Can you say anything about his reaction to all this? BRETT ODOM, FRIEND OF CAPT. CROZIER: Yes, and I should just make clear
that I'm not speaking for him, and he is clearly not speaking to the media. So, you know, I'm comfortable talking about his general attitude and where he is.
COOPER: Fair enough.
ODOM: There's been a few of us, close friends, we've had a chat group. We stayed in touch and talked to him. And throughout this, his entire attitude has been, you know, he did the best that he could. And he stood by his decision, and he's kept his sense of humor and has really taken everything in stride.
So, you know, I think he was -- my sense of his reaction is he's deeply humbled. And -- and -- and deeply grateful for the way the navy, the way they've handled this. From what I gathered in our conversations, everything's been incredibly professional. The Navy's done an incredibly good job of taking care of him and his family.
And so I think his attitude is that, you know, obviously, I expect he's probably very glad to be vindicated by the recommendation of the CNO and excited at the opportunity to lead the sailors if it comes to pass.
COOPER: I'm, also, guessing that he is incredibly concerned about all the -- I mean, 800 people aboard that ship, more than, coming down with the virus. I'm sure he's -- continues to be concerned about them as he, himself, as been in quarantine.
Do you know, is he able to -- I mean, I guess he's able to get updates about -- about them. I would assume.
ODOM: You know, I know he's talked to a lot of folks. We have some classmates in Guam who've, you know, kept in touch with him. I'm sure he's in -- in connection with folks in the Navy. You know, he says he had a lot of phone calls. We didn't get into the details.
But, certainly, any skipper and commanding officer of Brett's caliber would be deeply concerned about the crew. And, you know, I know they're first and foremost in his thoughts.
COOPER: Do you -- I mean, I don't know, again, you say what you can say but is he hopeful to retake command of the USS Roosevelt?
ODOM: Well, like I said, I think the news today, he -- I gather he did not have any forewarning. I sent him a link, and spoke to him shortly after. My -- my sense is that he's -- he's humbled. He is excited if the opportunity comes to pass.
And, again, this is a man who's put 32 years of his adult life into the naval service. It's a calling. It's a vocation. And if he has the opportunity to lead the greatest sailors on the -- in the -- on the planet, I think he would be happy and grateful to do that again.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: You're a navy man yourself. I'm wondering what -- I mean -- for you, what do you think the -- I mean the lesson in all this is? Is there a lesson in this?
ODOM: You know, we've talked about this becoming a leadership case the Naval academy, our group of classmates, I have no doubt this will be taught. I think it -- again, I'm not speaking with any inside information, just looking at it from the outside. I think it's a situation where you had a fast-moving virus, you had asymptomatic carriers, you had a long incubation period. And you have support environment where as you states on the Diamond Princess, the peer reviewed article he quoted in his memorandum.
It's nearly impossible to contain this in that situation. So I think that you could get to a point in cold analysis where everybody did the right thing, and maybe there's a breakdown of communication. But I -- you know, I think he's comfortable with the decision he made.
COOPER: Yes. Brett Odom, I appreciate you coming on in and talking about your thoughts on this. Thank you so much.
ODOM: Happy to do it. Take care, Anderson.
COOPER: You take care.
Just ahead, latest on the vaccines now development to treat coronavirus. Our Sanjay Gupta is going to join us again for an update, when we continue.
COOPER: Its global death toll from pandemic continues to rise. Currently almost 196,000 people are dead. The World Health Organization says is launching a new program to accelerate the development of the many COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics now in development. Here's Sanjay with report on what's happening.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Did you ever worry about the side effects?
SEAN DOYLE, COVID-19 VACCINE TRIAL PARTICIPANT: Yes, but those potential risks are outweighed, I think by the potential benefits.
GUPTA (voice-over): Within Sean Doyle's body, within his blood, may lie a path to a vaccine to COVID-19.
Less than one month after the novel coronavirus' genome was sequenced, vaccine trials began. There are now at least six vaccines trials under way, including this one at Emory University, part of the National Institute of Health First Human Clinical Trials. The vaccine is called mRNA-1273. And Sean is one of 45 people in Atlanta and Seattle that are part of the first phase of the study, testing it for safety.
(on camera): I think to myself, if you were my son and you came to me and said I want to do this, what would I tell you? Did you ever have a conversation like that with your parents or anybody else?
DOYLE: Yes, there were conversations that I had with friends and family, but they trusted my judgment.
GUPTA (voice-over): So here's how it works.
DOYLE: I gave some blood samples to be used as a baseline for assessing my health after getting the vaccine. And to also use as a baseline to determine whether or not there was any sort of immune response to my body was able to generate in response to the vaccine later.
GUPTA (voice-over): If it's successful, it may not only help get the world back to normal, but it could also be a game changer for other therapeutics and vaccines. Why? Because of its technology, instead of using the actual virus, which could inadvertently cause an infection, or even in an activated form of the virus. This vaccine relies on mRNA, messenger RNA, which is just the genetic blueprint of the virus. It directs our cells to make the coronaviruses unique spike protein, which is the virus is key to unlocking door into ourselves.
Once our body recognizes that, our immune system should be primed to create antibodies. If it works, it's a potentially safer and faster path shortening the development process from decades to years, or even months.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Getting it into phase one, in a matter of months is the quickest that anyone has ever done literally in the history of vaccinology.
GUPTA (voice-over): But speed is just one consideration. After all, it is a new technology.
EVAN ANDERSON, LEAD INVESTIGATOR, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: It's possible. There's no actual production of antibodies, in which because either the mRNA didn't get into the cells, the cells didn't make the proteins from the mRNA or the immune system didn't recognize those proteins. The -- or the dose was too low.
GUPTA (voice-over): Dr. Evan Anderson is the lead investigator for the trial at Emory University.
ANDERSON: There's a theoretical possibility that you could actually see an enhanced immune response that's actually a problem in the setting of subsequent COVID-19 exposure.
GUPTA (voice-over): That's called sensitization and means the body would overreact the next time it is exposed to the coronavirus, causing a storm of potentially deadly inflammation. Plus anything new will have unknowns and risks.
DOYLE: You can have some pain or tenderness at the site of injection. You can have nausea, you can sometimes develop fever, severe reactions could also occur in which you have something called anaphylaxis and you have a severe allergic reaction. But that only happens in about one out of 4 million people.
GUPTA (on camera): Just to be clear, though, it happens that one out of 4 million people once you've studied it?
GUPTA (on camera): You were being studied at that point?
DOYLE: For that particular vaccine. It was no one knew at the time.
GUPTA (voice-over): As part of the trial, Sean gets two doses of the vaccine, his second just this past week, and he's followed up with check-ins and blood draws to measure potential changes to a system for the following year.
DOYLE: Yes, nothing happened.
It really felt just like a flu shot and after the tenderness subsided after about a day or two, I really felt totally fine afterward.
COOPER: And Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now. Also here as Michael Osterholm, he is the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
Sanjay, what are the challenges in doing this faster than scientists have ever done before?
GUPTA: Well, you know, the big one is we -- we don't know if it's going to work. I mean, because instead of using the virus or even in an activated form of the virus, they're basically using this blueprint of a portion of the virus and using that to try and teach the body how to make these antibodies. It would be great if that works, it would be a lot faster, and I can tell you that part of the reason they could move as fast as they did because they gained some knowledge with previous attempts at coronavirus, vaccines with SARS and MERS. They didn't have to make those vaccines ultimately.
But -- so that helped accelerate this process. But I mean, the big question is, is it going to work? And, you know, and from Sean's perspective, is it going to be safe? It should be safe. But, you know, obviously, that's why you do these trials.
COOPER: Michael, I mean, the idea of having a vaccine in 18 months, how difficult will that be to achieve? And it's harder I think, for people like, you know, me, you who don't really understand -- know that much about the process, to think well, is it just people just will work harder, and that's what makes it go in 18 months?
MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH: Well, you know, it's kind of like the Iowa farmer that wants to harvest his corn and half the amount of time and thinks he can plant twice as many acres, it doesn't work that way. It's a situation where I think Sanjay is laid out very nicely what we have to do. I think safety is going to be a big issue down the road in terms of this acute antibody enhancement. We talked about the idea of the sensitization piece, and that's going to take many thousands of people to study before we'll know that.
But then the other thing that we haven't really factored in yet once you do get a vaccine that's approved and licensed, effective. You then have to manufacture it. And everyone in the world all 8 billion people are going to want this. In addition, you then have to distribute it and you have to administer it. We're up against the clock right now with this pandemic because as the next 16, 16 to 18 months are going to be under critical. So we're going to accomplish this vaccine has to get done pretty much in that time. So this is a challenge, but I think is Sanjay is laid out very nicely here what the potential is for this one, I just hope at some time, if it works.
COOPER: Yes, Sanjay is impossible, there won't be a vaccine?
GUPTA: Yes, I mean, it look that is possible. I, you know, I know people will hear that and be very discouraged. But, you know, Anderson, I mean, there has been other infections for which we've tried to develop vaccines on successfully HIV/AIDS obviously is one that people know Hepatitis C even RSV Respiratory Syncytial Virus. Michael, Mike, correct me if I'm wrong, I don't think we have one because it's suffered from the problems of sensitization. Again, meaning that if you got the vaccine the next time you got infected, it was actually worse. Not better --
GUPTA: -- from that. So yes, it is possible. I mean, obviously, I hope that doesn't happen.
OSTERHOLM: And I would agree with Sanjay, I think he's right on the mark. And that's where he and I both talked about hope. But we both know hope is not a strategy.
COOPER: Yes. And, Michael, I know you believe we're only I think you've said in the second inning of this pandemic, what do you think is to come? What -- I mean, do you have a sense of what is ahead up for us?
OSTERHOLM: Well, you know, first of all, just to understand this virus is very infectious, it is at least as infectious as influenza, and likely more. And, you know, you've seen the studies even in the last week, because they may be slightly flawed, but they're telling us that no more than five to 15 percent of the population has been infected to date and think all we've been through.
Well, this fire is because of the way it's transmitted and the infectiousness of it until you have at least 60 to 70 percent of the population infected. It's not going to slow down. It's going to keep coming and coming and coming at us.
So think how much more we have left to go. That's why I say we're in the second inning of a nine inning game. And so we need a vaccine very, very badly. But I worry that the way we're going to end up having an immune population is not from the vaccine, but from enough people getting infected, some dying, some being severely, ill and the rest of us hopefully develop an immunity. That's why I said we're up against the virus clock. We're not in human time right now we're in virus time.
COOPER: Is there any way to know or predict how long it would take to get that 60 to 70 percent immunity, you know, antibodies.
OSTERHOLM: That's where we're really challenged right now. The model we're using is pandemic influenza, which if you look, there have been 10 pandemics in the last 250 plus years. Two started in our winter, three in the spring, two in the summer, and three in the fall. Every one of them had a big peak about six months after the original start. That was much larger than all the early activity. And we even saw that in 2009 with H1N1 which wasn't that large, but the peak first was in February, March and then we saw the bigger peak in August, September, October.
So we don't know what we're going to see here is this coronavirus? Is it going to ask like that, but I can tell you it's not going to stop trying to find people to get until we get to that 60 or 70 percent mark. That's why we need everything we can to attack it now.
COOPER: Yes. Michael Osterholm, I really appreciate your expertise and Sanjay always thank you. And we'll see Sanjay again.
Up next, a heartbreaking story that young Connecticut woman whose husband was well and healthy, until suddenly struck by the coronavirus. The note he left her when we return.
COOPER: Jonathan Coelho was 32 years old a cancer survivor but in good health when his wife says he began showing early symptoms of coronavirus about a month ago, he underwent a series of treatments, was intubated. Doctors told his wife Katie they expected him to survive. He didn't.
Katie was called to the hospital in the middle of the night the day before yesterday, her husband had suffered cardiac arrest and she later learned the Jonathan left her a note in his phone about his devotion to her and their two children, one of whom has a serious medical condition.
Katie Coelho joins me now. Katie, I'm so sorry for your loss and I thank you for being with us. How are you holding on? How are you holding on?
KATIE COELHO, LOST HUSBAND TO CORONAVIRUS: It comes in waves. It's very surreal. But,it, it, I just, I, I keep thinking in my head. There's going to be a time where I've been without my husband longer than I've been with them and it hurts a lot.
COOPER: Yes. I've reached that point a couple times in my life and that's a -- it's a very strange feeling. And I'm sorry that you're going to experience that. Tell me about Jonathan. What was he like? How did you first meet?
COELHO: We met in college, he was in a fraternity and we just became really good friends. We would actually go on double dates with, like significant others that we had had in college and he was just always missing my go to person, he had a really amazing way of making everyone feel safe and his smile and his hugs just made you feel really secure and. And like around 2011 we just had, we were just like, why haven't we been dating each other this entire time?
COELHO: And it just was like, oh, this is why we didn't like each other's exes. So --
COOPER: That's right.
COELHO: -- and we started dating and I remember him saying to me, we -- he took me to dinner one night and he said, you know, you're my end game. This is it.
COELHO: So I'm in this for good. And he was my best friend and he was just funny. He was like a really goofy guy. And he was very quiet at times. But he was just if you he loved you and he cared about you. You knew it and there was no way to doubt that and he was just an infectious person. He just loved everyone and was so pure. So, so pure.
COOPER: You created two beautiful children. I mean, you're just looking at your pictures. It's so adorable. What a family.
COELHO: Yes, yes, we make cute babies. Yes, they're Braden is our son. He is two and a half. And Penelope is 10 months old.
COOPER: When -- I knew you were able to talk to him on FaceTime for a couple minutes, went for some time, but the last two days I know you weren't able to because he would get anxious. When the FaceTime call was ending and because he was coming -- he thought he was going to come off the ventilator that you didn't want to make him anxious that you get that call at night and I mean, it was or I can't imagine getting that call 2:00 a.m. did you -- you knew. Something had happened.
COELHO: They had always said with the hospital if you don't hear from us. It's a good thing. And they would give us daily updates. And of course, you could always call and check in and I would call multiple times a day and I would FaceTime and he was as this last week had progressed was being taken off the sedatives more and more so he was much more alert. And he could nod his head yes and no and points and was able to answer my yes and no questions. And Tuesday they trialed him off the ventilator in the sense that they took the pressure away. So he was really just breathing on his own and the idea was Wednesday morning, he would go off the oxygen part of it, trial it for the day and then I was told Thursday or Friday he would be off the ventilator completely. And I spoke with a nurse Tuesday at 9:00 and she said he did fantastic and he did tired at the end and that they gave him a little bit of sedative to sleep and I asked if I should face -- if I should FaceTime him or let them rest and she said, you know what, why don't we let them rest and I'll tell him you called and if he wakes up, I'll call you.
But I just didn't want to set him off and 2:04 Wednesday morning I woke up to my phone ringing and it was the hospital. And I before I even answered it, I just said, oh, God.
COOPER: He wrote a note that he -- that he left in his phone, and part of it reads, I love you guys with all my heart and you've given me the best life I could have ever asked for. Sorry.
COELHO: It's OK. Jonathan is good with his words.
COOPER: Yes. Do you have friends and family around you?
COELHO: I've been able to have -- because my kids tested positive and I was never tested. But they said it was safe to assume that I was positive because my entire family was -- we've been able to have people come and help us as long as there. They were mask and gloves and they've just helped with the kids greatly because the last two days have been really hard and I'm, I'm really trying, but I don't think I'm doing as good of a job as I wish I could.
COOPER: I mean, obviously your kids are so young. They don't really know what's going on.
COELHO: No, I think that's the double edged sword in it. I'm glad that they're so happy and they're loving and getting played with and they think it's so much fun. But it's also -- they don't know that they are lost them greatest human being. And they'll only ever know their dad through pictures and memories and videos and there's no -- and to me I feel like that's the worst part of this is that they won't feel the love that I felt for the past 10 years with my husband. They'll know about it, but they can't say like, I remember feeling that.
And, anyone who's never had the feeling of Jonathan loving them and has seriously missed out and it breaks my heart and I know he was so scared to miss out on them growing up. And that's one of the hardest things too is I know he didn't want this and I know he didn't go feeling like he had done everything he needed to do, I know he was feeling scared and not wanting to go.
COOPER: I can tell you my dad died when I was a little kid and I know he really tried not to die because he didn't want to leave my brother and I, and then not have as know him. The only thing I can tell you is that they will know him through you. And the love you have for him. They will feel like they know and because I know you'll tell stories about him as they grow up and for the rest of their lives.
COELHO: My daughter, my husband for my birthday this year, made me a photo blanket and my daughter every night unprompted, crawls over to her dad's picture and just like starts hitting it because she just likes his picture. And the night my husband -- the night prior to my husband passing my son got his adaptive communication device and their -- his speech teacher who was amazing made a tab that was so he could speak specifically to my husband when he we could FaceTime him.
And I sent a video to the hospital and it's my son touching. I asked him, what do you want to say to dad and he hit my dad's my best friend. And that's the last video the nurse showed my husband before he went into cardiac arrest.
COOPER: Katie, I am so sorry for your loss seems so small, but I think there are a lot of people who are praying for you and thinking about you. And whose hearts are breaking with you. And I wish you peace and strength in the days ahead.
COELHO: Thank you. I appreciate it very much. Thank you for telling my husband's story. It means a lot to us and him.
COOPER: Katie Coelho, thank you.
COELHO: Thank you.
COOPER: I just wanted to let you know a GoFundMe site has been set up for Katie's family. It's gofundme.com/f/vbe3b-covid19-relief. You can see the address on your screen there. They would certainly appreciate anything you could do for them so it be contributing.
Still ahead this evening, the President's comments. We'll be right back.