Return to Transcripts main page
Interview With Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY); Kamala Harris Visits Mexico; Interview With Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations CEO Richard Hatchett. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired June 8, 2021 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Do not come. Do not come.
GOLODRYGA (voice-over): The U.S. sends a message to would-be migrants, the vice president in Mexico as the country reels from a bloody election. I
will get some perspective with Mexican political analyst and professor Denise Dresser.
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY): When you have more convictions, that is what sends the message to everyone.
GOLODRYGA: Changing the way the military responds to sexual assault -- why one Democratic senator is willing to cross the aisle to get it done.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: We're going to end this outbreak for absolutely certainly. And the vehicle to ending it
GOLODRYGA: Ending this pandemic and preventing the next one. I will ask Richard Hatchett, former adviser to Presidents Bush and Obama, about how we
can vaccinate the world.
NOUBAR AFEYAN, CO-FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN, MODERNA: This is a pandemic that needs to be stopped globally, not locally.
GOLODRYGA: Moderna co-founder Noubar Afeyan on lessons learned and building a healthier world post-pandemic.
GOLODRYGA: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.
Christiane is on medical leave and will return very soon.
And now we start in Mexico, where Vice President Kamala Harris continues her first trip abroad in office. She's tasked with stemming the surge of
migrants coming to the Southern border. And, today, she's meeting President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a key, but complicated ally.
The meeting comes just a few days after Mexico's huge midterm elections. Not unlike the United States, they were the most polarized in years, but
there was also a violent and tragic underbelly. A staggering number of politicians were killed during the campaign, at least 96.
Voters denied the president, also known as AMLO, a supermajority, but his party holds on to power in the Lower House of Congress. AMLO came into
office promising hugs, not gunshots, but, as this election shows, violence is still rife.
Let's get some analysis on this now and on the relations between the U.S. and Mexico.
Denise Dresser is a Mexican political analyst, columnist and professor, and she's joining me live.
Denise, thank you so much. Welcome to the program.
So, Vice President Harris is there meeting with Lopez Obrador. We will just call him AMLO to make it easier here. They came with an agreement that they
would cooperate more, the two countries, on stemming the flow of migrants and on dealing with the underlying issues.
The vice president today said this is embarking on a new era. But we know there's nothing new about this crisis. Many administrations prior to the
Biden administration have been tackling the same issue. Do you see any difference in this approach?
DENISE DRESSER, POLITICAL ANALYST: First of all, it's a pleasure to be here. Thank you for the invitation.
Well, Kamala Harris and President Biden face a very tough situation, because, while President Biden is trying to pass through a number of very
ambitious legislative reforms and pull the U.S. out of the hole that it was in, given the pandemic and the economic crisis, he's also facing a
challenge on the border, which is an influx, an unprecedented influx, because migrants are fleeing their countries due to the violence there, and
also feel that the new administration will abide by its asylum commitments.
So, Kamala had to go to Mexico in order to enlist the support of President Lopez Obrador. AMLO had a very warm relationship with President Trump and
has seemed quite distant and prickly vis-a-vis Biden.
So, I think the U.S. understood that, finally, it had to look at Mexico, get support on controlling the crisis at the border, and also deal with the
huge rise and surge in violence over the past several years. This is not a new problem. Mexico, over the past decade, has become one of the most
violent countries in the Western Hemisphere.
But what is new is the way in which the violence has become political. Organized crime is no longer just fighting itself, cartel against cartel.
It is now taking on politicians and killing them in order to install its own favorite candidates or leaders at the local and state level.
So, this was a clearly top of the agenda for Biden and Kamala Harris, after months of really not focusing on Mexico, due to the complexity of the
problems that the president and the vice president were facing in the U.S.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, nearly 100 politicians, as we mentioned, have been killed throughout this election cycle. This, as we mentioned, was the biggest
election that this country has faced.
And it didn't necessarily go AMLO's way. They have a simple majority, it appears, and not a supermajority. He came into office, and now he's midway
through his six-year term -- we're three years in -- promising reforms, fighting corruption, fighting poverty, boosting the economy, lowering
His detractors would suggest that that is not what's happening right now. Do you think -- as you mentioned, there was a prickly relationship or
prickly approach towards the Biden administration. Do you think what's happened with these elections may have lowered the tensions there and
weakened that hand that AMLO felt that he had going into this relationship?
DRESSER: Well, AMLO came in promising a fourth transformation for Mexico.
And the election was a hopefully a wakeup call for him that the direction of that transformation faces opposition among a vast majority of Mexicans,
because, over the past two-and-a-half years, he has proceeded to carry out a series of reforms that have not necessarily led in the right direction.
He has centralized power. He mismanaged the pandemic, minimizing it, as many proto-populist leaders did in Latin America and elsewhere. He did not
intervene in order to help the poor during the pandemic through an influx of government support.
And this has led to Mexico to be in the third place in terms of absolute number of deaths due to COVID to 8.5 percent contraction of GDP, and to an
increase in poverty, along with what many view as the de-democratization or the democratic erosion of Mexico, because Lopez Obrador had said many times
that the checks and balances of the past did not apply to him, and that he was going to be the champion of a real democracy and of the people.
Well, the people have spoken, and they have sent a clear message to the National Palace that he cannot rule without constraints, as he intended to.
His party lost big in Mexico City, which was a traditional bastion of the left. And although he managed to retain a majority in Congress, it's not a
supermajority. He will not be able to reform the Constitution. His party did well in governorships at the state level.
But there is a sense that this changes the narrative for Mexico, that Lopez Obrador is going to face resistance, and that the democracy that -- the
incipient, fragile democracy that Mexico has built over the past 30 years actually flexed its muscles, and citizens went out in a record level of
participation to tell the president that this fourth transformation needs to be much more inclusive, it needs to bolster democracy, instead of
undermining it, and that he has to pay attention to the middle classes, to economic growth, and stop polarizing the country, as he has been doing
since the beginning of his term.
GOLODRYGA: And I guess the flip side of that is that the opposition doesn't really have much commonality against his policies. It's just that
his term is what they are hoping to bring to an end. They don't necessarily bring much to the table.
Do you think that he will comply with what it appears that voters are telling him and rearrange or refocus his agenda and focus on more issues
like corruption what he ran on? Or do you think this is going to be more resistance coming from him and perhaps more of a lame-duck rest of his
DRESSER: Well, his initial reaction has not been what many of us had hoped for.
Instead of recognizing that this is a wakeup call and a message to change the direction of his presidency, he has said that voters in Mexico City
were manipulated by the media. He has said that the opposition is simply a return to the past. He has not fully understood the message that voters
wanted to send. And that is half of the country.
So, I foresee him, sadly, becoming more radical or attempting to become more radical, because what you said is true. The opposition only won
because it banded together. And you saw a marriage of convenience between the left and the right and opposition parties that historically had been at
And their only the only objective of this unholy alliance was to stop Lopez Obrador in his tracks. And we will have to see if that alliance persists in
the legislature over the next several years, because it will be the only way of creating democratic barriers around a president who has autocratic
And what this does -- what this does -- what this election does is open an interesting question, because the president of Mexico can only remain in
power for one term.
DRESSER: So, in 2024, we will have new elections. And it'll be interesting to see whether the opposition can field a candidate who is as charismatic,
as powerful, and has such a connection to the people or to lower and -- lower-income Mexicans, as Lopez Obrador has had.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, I'm glad you brought up authoritarian tendencies, because it's not something we're just seeing in Mexico, unfortunately, in Latin
America and in South America.
If you look at Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, he's eliminated really any opposition and rewritten the constitution there as well. Many other
countries' constitutions continue to be fragile. And the U.S. isn't dealing with some of these countries because of their weak governing and their
Do you think that this stymies in any way U.S. policies and the U.S. agenda in addressing the migrant crisis?
DRESSER: I think the U.S. has to pay more attention to what's happening in Latin America, and specifically in Mexico. Mexico is one of its key trading
partners. We share a border. We are interconnected via the North American Free Trade Agreement, recently renegotiated.
And I think that the U.S. cannot afford to be lackadaisical about the authoritarian winds blowing in Latin America, in El Salvador and Nicaragua,
perhaps in Peru, clearly in Brazil. And this is not dissimilar from what is happening elsewhere.
You're seeing populist regimes emerge as a result of a backlash against neoliberal policies that did little to alleviate inequality And that led to
increasing social discontent. And the answer in many of these places has been populism. Populism in Mexico was dealt a blow in Mexico, but it was
not a death blow.
And many of the people who support Lopez Obrador have real grievances that the opposition needs to address if it actually wants to gain a stronger
foothold than the one that it gained in this last election.
GOLODRYGA: And that is going to be the challenge, when you compare that to how the United States, the administration is looking at this as well and
Vice President Harris saying the U.S. and Mexico have a longstanding relationship, based on family shared borders and shared history. So it is
no wonder that this is a challenge that has not only hit this administration, but previous ones as well.
Denise, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.
DRESSER: Thank you very much for the invitation.
GOLODRYGA: Thank you.
Well, we turn now to COVID and how to keep the deadly disease at bay.
With new strains popping up across the globe, our next guest says the only way to win the pandemic battle is to create a variant-proof world.
Richard Hatchett is the CEO of CEPI, or the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, who runs the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility. He's
also worked as an adviser to former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. And he joins us now from Surrey, England, to explain more on what
Thank you so much for joining the show. We really appreciate it.
As the G7 leaders are meeting this week, what is your message to them about vaccine-sharing around the world and the contributions that the richest
countries in the world should be making to that?
RICHARD HATCHETT, CEO, COALITION FOR EPIDEMIC PREPAREDNESS INNOVATIONS: Well, I think that -- hi, Bianna. Thanks for having me on the show.
I think the message to the G7 -- and I think they're aware of this -- is that this is a once-in-a-generation meeting of the G7 leaders during a
global crisis. And they essentially have two missions with respect to the COVID pandemic.
The first is to bring the current crisis to an end as quickly as possible. The second is to lay the foundations for a world that is better prepared to
do with pandemics in the future.
In terms of ending the pandemic now, there are really three things that I think they need to do. The first is to, one, engage in a collective effort
to address the pandemic. And that also means funding the multilateral efforts, which is principally COVAX, the mechanism for distributing
vaccines around the world, second, to share doses now, that most of these countries are in pretty good position.
They're seeing their local epidemics decline. They must share their doses with the rest of the world as quickly as they feasibly and possibly can.
And the third is to free up supply chains, to take down barriers and restrictions that may be limiting global production of vaccine.
GOLODRYGA: Are you satisfied with President Biden's administration's promise to deliver 75 percent of excess vaccines around the world?
HATCHETT: The promise that by the administration made was to share doses. They said that they will initially share 80 million doses, 75 percent of
which they envision being shared through the COVAX mechanism, the other 25 percent being used either regionally or through bilateral mechanisms.
HATCHETT: I think that's a start.
The Biden administration has taken a series of steps -- they have kind of done this sequentially -- in support of the global multilateral efforts.
They have made huge contributions financially to COVAX. And now, given the situation with the epidemic in the United States, the declining rates of
disease, the high rates of vaccination that are being achieved, they're ready to begin sharing doses.
And that's a tremendous thing. It sets a great example for the other G7 countries.
GOLODRYGA: And a country as rich as the United States has some of our own problems. Maybe they're more high-class problems. But, nonetheless, they
can affect the world and some of the decision-making.
And I'm referring to a headline that I just read today that millions of J&J vaccines are set to expire at the end of this month, and that Moderna and
Pfizer may be in a similar situation later this summer.
Given that and that millions could be going to waste, what should the U.S. and other countries, perhaps, developed countries, Western countries that
are facing similar issues, be doing with those excess doses?
HATCHETT: Well, they need to provide those doses to other countries with enough lead time that the countries can absorb them and use them.
I mean, I mean, depositing doses with a country -- donating doses that have two weeks until they expire obviously creates really significant
challenges, and is not going to be good for the world good or good for the countries that are receiving the doses.
COVAX, we have set up a donation mechanism that would allow us to allocate doses to countries that are ready to absorb them and use them as quickly as
possible. So we can work with countries like the U.S. or the U.K. or others who have doses where the shelf life is decreasing, so that those doses can
go to the best use possible.
Obviously, having to dispose of them in the countries where they expired is not desirable at all.
And, obviously, the J&J, it's just one dose, easier to administer as well. You have warned the world that the reason to do this is not just to be
equitable and on a humanitarian basis, but also to avoid a nightmare scenario, nightmare scenario, obviously, going back a century ago to the
1918 Spanish Flu.
There are millions of people who may be thinking the worst is behind us, especially in countries that are seeing a high vaccine rate. Why are you
still sounding the alarm that this isn't over?
HATCHETT: Well, it's not over for the rest of the world.
I mean, there is a sense, certainly in the United Kingdom, where I am, I understand in the United States, that the worst of the pandemic seems to be
behind the U.S. and the U.K. That is absolutely not the case in the rest of the world.
You look at the recent situation in India. A fact that I have been citing recently, in Peru, in the Western Hemisphere, they have recently elevated
their per capita mortality rate. They now estimate that they have had 184,000 people out of a population of just 33 million have died.
That per capita mortality rate is higher than the per capita mortality in the U.S. or the U.K. during the 1918 influenza, which we all take as our
benchmark for a terrible pandemic. And without vaccine, other countries, the outcomes in Peru could be replicated in other countries, which would be
And you see that the U.S. administration seeing firsthand what this means. The vice president, Kamala Harris, is in Mexico right now. They have the
world's fourth highest death toll from COVID. And it is still rampant in South and Central America.
Let's talk about how to make sure that there is a variant-proof world, because we are constantly bombarded by the day of different variants from
around the world, some more prominent and well-known than others. And, for now, it appears that the vaccines that are available are pretty effective
against them, but not 100 percent, including AstraZeneca.
Are you really concerned that there may come a variant that these vaccines are not effective against?
HATCHETT: Well, we don't -- I mean, we have only got about a year-and-a- half's worth of experience with this virus. We don't know how far or how fast it can mutate.
It has already demonstrated -- with the emergence of the variants in Europe, in Africa, in South America, now in Asia, it has demonstrated that
it can evolve in a direction that makes it more transmissible and it can also evolve in a direction that allows it at least partially to evade the
And we don't know how far that can go. And the nightmare scenario, the thing that keeps me up at night, is a scenario in which a variant emerges
that completely evades the existing immune responses that people had and the existing vaccines. And that would put the entire world back at square
Let me just play, though, off of the idea of the variant-proof world. The other thing to remember is that, as bad as this has been, it is absolutely
not the worst-case. Back in the Bush administration, when I was working on pandemic planning, we, working with CDC, developed a scale modeled on the
hurricane scale for pandemics.
And the case fatality rate for COVID would make this a -- probably a Category 2 out of 5 pandemic on that scale that was developed almost 15
years ago. So there are many worse scenarios. And I think we need to come out of this pandemic laying the foundations for future preparedness.
GOLODRYGA: Because there are future pandemics, where the vaccines will not be as easily accessible and as quickly developed as this has been.
How closely are you following the origins and -- of this pandemic and of this virus? And are you viewing it as an important study right now to get
to the bottom of it? There are reports that we have seen that there had been scientists from the Wuhan lab who had been administered to -- went and
checked into the hospital a few months earlier in the fall.
Now we're hearing a new study from the National Labs commissioned by the State Department in May of 2020 hypothesized about the possibility that
this was a leak from the lab. What is your take on this? And is it important?
HATCHETT: I think the origins of the virus are important. It is important to investigate these as dispassionately as possible.
What seems very clear is that this was not a bioengineered virus.It wasn't developed to be a biological weapon. It -- absolutely. I mean, and whether
it emerged from nature through an intermediate host and got into human populations, or whether the possibility that you're referring to being
explored now, that it could represent an accidental leak from a laboratory, that's an important question to explore, because it does have some impact
on steps that we might take to reduce future risk.
But what's very clear is that viruses emerge from animal reservoirs all the time, and increasingly so. And what we need to do to prepare for future
pandemics is not going to be changed fundamentally by the outcome of an investigation into the origins of this virus.
What we need for the future are global bio-surveillance systems with rapid genomic sequencing and rapid sharing of that data. We need empowered public
health agencies that can -- driven by science, can use tailored and targeted interventions to react rapidly to new, emerging -- new, emerging
And, finally, we need rapid development of countermeasures. One of the things that we have been pressing for and one of the things that the G7
will be looking at the leaders summit this weekend and that the U.K. is really leading the charge for is rapid development, much more rapid even
than in 2020, development of new vaccines, new therapeutics, new diagnostics.
GOLODRYGA: You have worked in previous administrations. Obviously, you said this wasn't even the worst-case scenario or nightmare that we have
From a leadership perspective -- let's put the science and the medicine aside, because they have worked wonders. But, from a leadership
perspective, what have you learned and what were the implications of some of the decisions made by the Trump administration? And how do you view that
different from what you're seeing in the Biden administration?
HATCHETT: Well, I think leadership is very important, obviously, and it is most effective -- I mean, I mean, political divisiveness makes it almost
impossible to respond effectively to an emerging disease.
And that's true within countries. It's also true among and between countries. There -- the initial responses to this virus were largely
national in focus. That gave rise to this concept of vaccine nationalism, for example, where countries were solely trying to take care of themselves.
But you cannot overcome a pandemic or emerge from a pandemic by only thinking about your own priorities. And so I think the lessons of the
pandemic will be explored and studied for a long time.
The things that gave rise to countries such as New Zealand, South Korea, a few other shining examples, where things have generally gone well, need to
be studied, need to be explored.
HATCHETT: A lot of that has to do with social cohesion and good, transparent leadership. And that's critically important.
GOLODRYGA: Trust, leadership and listening to science, all of that very important and key in fighting a pandemic.
Richard Hatchett, thank you so much for your expertise. We appreciate it.
HATCHETT: Thanks, Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: Well, now, in an era of intense partisanship in Washington, one Democratic senator stands out for her willingness to cross the aisle in
pursuit of legislation she's been trying to get passed for over a decade.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York is hoping to overhaul the way the military responds to sexual assault cases with a bipartisan bill. And, this
time, she has the backing of the president and numerous colleagues who voted against it the last time it came to the floor.
I spoke to Senator Gillibrand about what her bill aims to achieve earlier today.
GOLODRYGA: Senator, thank you so much for joining us.
Sexual assault in the military remains as pervasive today as it did a decade ago. Female service members face more than a 5 percent chance of
being sexually assaulted while they are in service.
Why does that figure remain so high?
GILLIBRAND: Well, we have a recent report from Fort Hood that said that the command climate was so toxic that it was permissible for both sexual
assault and sexual harassment.
And so I believe, along with 66 senators, who believe that the current military justice system just isn't working. Commanders aren't setting the
right climate. And when sexual assaults take place, survivors that are brave enough to come forward aren't getting justice.
So we want to reform the system. And we want to make it far more professionalized and unbiased.
GOLODRYGA: Can you explain how that process works in the military today, going through the chain of command? And then walk us through what your bill
proposes to do to change that.
GILLIBRAND: So, first of all, if someone is sexually assaulted, when that report is made, the investigation will take place, just as it does today.
But what our bill does is, when the investigation is completed, and recommendations are made by the investigators, that case file will now go
to a trained military prosecutor who has experience in these types of cases, but also does not necessarily know the accused or the accuser, so
they have no bias.
Today, that decision is made by a commander. And, oftentimes, commanders do not have adequate training. They aren't lawyers, and they aren't criminal
justice lawyers. And they often know the assailant or the survivor.
And so, unfortunately, we have seen bias in the system. And so the way to solve the problem is professionalize it. And it's a decision that our
allies have long made. The U.K., Israel, Canada, Germany, Australia, they took all serious crimes out of the chain of command, and gave that decision
point to trained military prosecutors, which is what we are recommending.
GOLODRYGA: You have been working on this bill for many years now. And I know you have heard the pushback.
But, from our viewers, let's give them a sense of what that is and what that entails. According to the AP, military service leaders fear that
shifting prosecution cases from the chain of command could decrease the number of prosecutions and delay the cases and prevent future cases and
prevent less -- prevent help for victims as well.
What is your response to that argument?
GILLIBRAND: Well, first of all, I don't think it can get any worse.
Today, for example, there were approximately 20,000 cases that the DOD estimated in the entire military, and only over -- just over 200 ended in
conviction. So you can't get worse.
And so I believe, if the set of eyes that first sees these case files is highly trained and unbiased, you're going to get the right cases moving
forward, and you're going to get more in conviction.
I think it makes a difference and I think it will begin to change the climate and begin to change the system.
GOLODRYGA: It's disheartening when you start to answer with, it can't get worse, right?
GOLODRYGA: And we said women face a 5 percent chance of being sexually assaulted in the military. And those are the women and the victims who
choose to come forward. So many of them are silent throughout the process, including well known figures like former senator from Arizona, Martha
McSally, the first woman to fly in combat in the air force. She testified before Congress in 2019 about her own experience and her own sexual assault
while she was in service. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FMR. SEN. MARTHA MCSALLY (R-AZ): I am also a military sexual assault survivor. But unlike so many brave survivors, I didn't report being
sexually assaulted. Like so many women and men, I didn't trust the system at the time. I blamed myself. I was ashamed and confused. And I thought I
was strong but felt powerless.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: That was such a difficult -- difficult words and testimony to hear from her and her honesty so many years later. Do you get a sense that
your bill will change how these survivors of assault feel about coming forward and the trust that they will have in the system?
GILLIBRAND: I do. Because our bill is based on talking to service members and survivors. It's why it's endorsed by every major veterans'
organization, from the Vietnam Veterans Association to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Association. And I talked to someone like Senator Joni
Ernst who is also a combat veteran and sexual assault survivor, and this was something she was really reluctant to do for many years. But she
finally got to the point, having served for seven years, that everything else we tried wasn't working.
We've already put in place 250 other reforms that the military was OK with. And this is the one they fought every step of the way. And because I know
that if you have more professionalized people who are more highly trained looking at these case files, common sense tells us they will pick better
They will try more cases. And when you have more convictions, that is what sends the message to everyone that sexual assault isn't tolerated. It's not
enough to say the words. Every secretary of defense since Dick Cheney has said the words, there is no tolerance for sexual assault.
But until you start trying and convicting repeat rapists and predators it doesn't really send the message that it is zero tolerance.
GOLODRYGA: And it's interesting you make this point. You mentioned Senator Ernst. Many Republicans across the aisle support this bill. Your bill has
63 cosponsors. Do you believe you can have 75 bipartisan votes for the bill to be lined up?
What is a bit ironic here is that it's somebody from within your own party, Senator Reid, the chair of the Armed Services Committee who is pushing back
and hesitant about bringing this bill forward, wanting it to go through his own committee. And he wants to separate the sexual assault charges in cases
from all of the rest. Why is that not something that you could see coming to fold and fruition?
GILLIBRAND: There are two main reasons why I oppose that view. First, if you just take one crime out of the chain of command, what would have
happened in the case of Vanessa Guillen? Vanessa Guillen was, from her family, who has told us, harassed by someone in her unit, relentlessly. And
then she is murdered. And her murderer shoots himself as well. That is a murder case. It is not a sexual assault case.
So, under Senator Reid's view, Vanessa Guillen's case, the most serious in most recent history wouldn't even be tried or wouldn't even be taken by
this trained military prosecutor to be decided. And what we know from the fort hood report and what we know from Vanessa's family is that the
military, the army disbelieved she was harassed. Didn't deny that she was harassed.
So, in their normal approach to put things under the rug, this case might not even have gotten the benefit of this independent system. And so, I
think all serious crimes should be removed for the benefit of these particular cases. Because often there are related crimes like murder that
should have the benefit of someone who really understands criminal justice.
Second, if you minimize it to just one crime, I would be concerned that this would further demonize, diminish and dismiss women who go forward in
these claims because they now will have their own court. Some call it a pink court. It would be just reserved for women and they would be further
marginalized. And so, for both plaintiffs' and defendants' rights, for both solving this problem of sexual assault in the military and guaranteeing
equal justice for all service members, you should have a bright line and it should be at serious crimes.
GOLODRYGA: Senator, in a normal environment I think you'd be commended for getting people from both sides of the aisle to agree to this bill and
support it, but you're also working now with some election deniers, Senator Hawley, Ted Cruz, who support President Trump's attempt to overturn the
election. Why do you think that this issue is important enough to work together with people who are, frankly, trying to undermine the system?
GILLIBRAND: It's my job. I am elected as a public servant to serve the State of New York. And I need to solve problems for New Yorkers and for our
country. And that means reaching across the aisle. And it means reaching across the aisle and talking to people you may not agree with on most
issues. But on this issue, we agree. We have Democrats and Republicans standing firm on behalf of men and women in the armed services to do the
right thing, to create the right justice system, to create fairness and equality. And they stand together with me.
That is what I'm here to do. And hopefully, I will also someday convince them to see that we should be having a commission, that we should get to
the bottom of what happened on January 6th. That it is their responsibility, too, to make sure we have the transparency and
accountability this country stands for. But that's my job, too, to convince them on that.
So, I don't mind working with anyone in the U.S. Senate, because together we have to solve the country's problems.
GOLODRYGA: Yes. And it is shocking that it's taken this long, and you still don't have a bill here to bring forward and to move forward as well,
especially since other militaries around the world are doing this exact thing.
GILLIBRAND: Have already done it. So, we've been looking at this issue in the Armed Services Committee for the last eight years. We've passed 250
measures. We've had our chance to fix this problem and, frankly, the committee has failed.
And so, now, it is appropriate that this bill have the benefit of an up or down vote on the floor. When we repealed don't ask don't tell it was not
through the committee, it was an up or down vote on the Senate floor. And this is that kind of bill. It is a generational bill to reform how we look
at military justice and it should be an up or down vote by all senators.
GOLODRYGA: Senator Gillibrand, thank you so much for your time and thank you for your dedication all these years later to this really important
cause. We appreciate it.
GILLIBRAND: Thank you.
GOLODRYGA: Thank you.
GILLIBRAND: Thank you.
GOLODRYGA: And now, as global vaccination rates continue to tick up, some are starting to imagine life after the pandemic. But we can't move forward
without looking back says our next guest, Moderna chairman, Noubar Afeyan. He has coauthored a report as the CEO of Flagship Pioneering along with the
Eurasia group on lessons learned from the COVID crisis and how to build a better future. Here he is with Walter Isaacson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Bianna. And Dr. Noubar Afeyan, welcome back to the show.
NOUBAR AFEYAN, CO-FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN, MODERNA: Great to be here, Walter.
ISAACSON: You have this big report that's just come out with the Eurasian group and you and others and it talked about preemptive medicine. What does
that mean other than getting vaccines ready?
AFEYAN: Well, Walter, if medicine as a field, which has brought, you know, tremendous value to humanity, has increasingly focused on the state after a
disease has been diagnosed. And so, all of our brightest minds are working on the progression of disease, late stage disease, what to do to save
lives. And that's all fine. But as in parallel we've been learning about the biology underlying what leads to disease, what we realize is that the
later you wait the harder it is to treat.
And in fact, we're increasingly finding that there are conditions broadly that we call prediseases that are pathways to a disease where we could
think about intervening at that point. So, the whole idea of preemptive medicine is if medicine decided to consider its mandate not just finding
and treating disease but to actually find and intervene with predisease and altogether prevent disease if it is at all possible. And I think our
general assumption is that is not possible, but I would argue that it's not possible because it has not been what we've been focused on so far.
And I think, ultimately, there will be many diseases that can be delayed so much that you might as well have prevented them in one's lifetime.
ISAACSON: Does that mean using artificial intelligence to try to predict what diseases might come next?
AFEYAN: Artificial intelligence is part of the arsenal we now have available that only a few years ago would not have been as readily
available. Identifying markers for predisease states, the more we learn about how cells are malfunctioning, the more we can think about how to coax
them back into normal states. These markers reveal the state of a cell.
I mean, a cell is an extremely complicated machine. There is no computer in the world that comes close to the simplest of cells in terms of complexity
and what it's doing every nanosecond of every hour of our days. We perceive our lives in the minutes and hours, but these cells are operating at an
extremely fast rate. And any number of things going wrong changes the cell state and ultimately causes disease.
Artificial intelligence helps us deal with the complexity of the just shared data we can now generate. But ultimately, it will be part of an
arsenal. It starts with our kind of our societal re-evaluation of whether we want to delay and prevent disease, or we want to accept disease and do
something about improving our lives with disease.
I think it's time with this pandemic. What this pandemic has taught us is that nearly 4 million people who lost their lives and many tens of millions
who have been afflicted as seriously with this, we have got to reconsider whether that's good enough or we need to start thinking holistically about
the spectrum of not health and disease, but as soon as you start moving toward a diseased condition, what can we do?
ISAACSON: Moderna, your company, created one of the mRNA vaccines, that ones that came first. Those of us who got those mRNA vaccines when do you
think we're going to need booster shots and what are you doing to try to study when a booster shot may be necessary?
AFEYAN: Well, as we did with the original viral strain, Moderna has been really the first to get into studying alternative mRNA sequences that could
more effectively protect against variants and we have these being studied in humans and have for months, and we are expecting data over the
Knowing when boosters should be applied is an interesting, broader decision. It's partly science but it is partly public policy. Because at
some level, you can either treat everybody the same or you can begin to say, can we measure things about particular subgroups of folks?
People who are immunocompromised, people who might have another reason why they did not mount a strong immune defense and rather preferentially give
those boosters to them so that we can keep the protection levels high. I think this is also, Walter, happening, at the same time, we need to think
about the rest of the world.
So, what is the ethical dilemma we will face as societies is, are we better off giving boosters indiscriminately to everybody and societies that have
them or are we better off thinking in a scientific way about where they are best applied?
And that's all ahead for us. This is uncharted territory, but it comes back to making the point that if you think about health security, you need
measurement, you need surveillance, you need action that is appropriate for the infraction, not one size fits all kind of a public health initiative
where everybody has to get this. I don't think that's commensurate with our understanding of disease, which is getting better and better.
ISAACSON: So, what are you trying to measure to figure out who needs booster shots and when they might need them? What should I do if I went to
the doctor? Should I go get an antibody test and say, do I need a booster, or should I just wait for your metrics to come in?
AFEYAN: There is a healthy amount of debate about that these days because the diagnostic tests that have been out so far were rather focused on the
presence of a vaccine or virus or its absence rather than the robustness of an antibody response. We all know that antibodies are not the only way the
immune system fights back against infections. There are T cells as well. We also know that antibody levels are not the only way that there is a
reservoir of them, what is called B cells, memory B cells that could be activated.
Nevertheless, if your antibody level goes way down, then the instant protection that is afforded to you when the antibody level is high is
clearly diminished, and we do need to measure in the first instance antibody levels across enough people post vaccination that we can begin to
get a sense of what the course of what is being called waning immunity looks like. And that's being done right now. The science, the research is
being done. Not a question will be, will there be test out there available and reliable to inform such decisions?
So, we're in the middle of that. There's a number of initiatives in my firm, Flagship Pioneering, that are aimed in different ways of trying to
shed light on what's the best course forward.
ISAACSON: Flagship Pioneering, what you just mentioned, is the investment company and venture company that did Moderna. You chair it. What other
companies do you have in Flagship that are going to do things that might help us fight this pandemic or others?
AFEYAN: Well, we have, as part of our health security and broadly what we call our preemptive medicine effort, Walter, a number of new projects that
are, for example, working on creating a global pathogen shield which combines machine learning, artificial intelligence together with some
advanced antigen design techniques to come up with pan corona, pan influenza or why not potentially pan HIV strain vaccines using some of the
learnings that we've made in the recent past.
We have some companies that are developing multiple technologies that could continually advance. Obviously, mRNA will be an absolute, rock solid
platform in the future of vaccines. But there are other aspects of vaccines that new technologies are being explored. We are heavily involved in that.
And as I mentioned a little earlier, let's expand the focus broadly. Pandemic, which really means a disease that affects the whole world not
just a subset of people, you know, heart disease is a pandemic. Alzheimer's is a pandemic. There are many, many pandemics in front of us. And just like
in the case of this virus, they create emergencies. They create massive fatalities. And we have companies that are also identifying the biomarkers
that can tell us early on, even before a disease can be diagnosed that that predisease exists and we're testing interventions.
So, there's a -- it is a multifaceted attack, if you will, on behalf of what we've just endured and wanting to make the world better in terms of
what technologies it has available to improve our health status, not just deal with our sicknesses.
ISAACSON: You have patent protection for the Moderna mRNA vaccine and the Biden administration has talked about lifting such patent protection. Some
have argued because of the fact so much public money went to the development that now we're in the global pandemic we should do that. To
what extent do you think that makes sense? And to what extent might that hurt your ability to develop the things you've been talking about for
AFEYAN: Well, Walter, in the case of Moderna, there's a -- this has a particular irony, if you will, to it in the sense that last October we
announced publicly that we would not -- voluntarily not enforce our patents on pandemic COVID-19 vaccines that use our technology during the pandemic.
And we said that because we realize that our underlying mRNA technology was going to be vital to anybody developing mRNA vaccines because we've been
working on this for 10 years and we've developed a very large scientific platform from which many others are beginning to make further advances in
developing products. And we knew this was the responsible thing to do.
We've said that's the case during a pandemic and this was many months before any of these regulations are proposed. So, in a way, I would say as
a public policy matter, it is true, and I agree with my colleagues in industry who have pointed out that this is not going to have much of an
effect in the short-term on supply of vaccines, rather, the ramp up of the current vaccines all of us are making.
Moderna has said publicly we will have capacity to make 3 billion doses. I think Pfizer, based on its financial capabilities, has said numbers even
numbers close or higher than that. So, those things are happening. And there is no -- IP, itself, will not generate vaccines. IP knowhow, scale
up, money, all of these things are already being deployed.
So, I'll separate -- the Moderna view is, we already have taken the view because we have so many patents in this regard that we believe that it is
important as a public matter that people be able to come up with solutions during the pandemic. But then, after that, I think anything that deters
innovation and the protection that should be afforded for people to take the risk, that I think in the long-term is not a good policy approach.
ISAACSON: You've gotten money from the organization that distributes vaccines around the world to poorer countries and I think you've made a
commitment for half a billion to go to that organization. But it was a little bit later than AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson and others did so.
Why did it take you so long and what are you going to be doing to make sure the rest of the world gets these vaccines you are manufacturing?
AFEYAN: These organizations have had an unenviable task of figuring out both what resources they're going to have, the burden that they're going to
have to undertake, and working with multiple companies each with their own supply constraints, their own requirements, and they've been talking to
everybody, including us, and we've been trying to get to as expeditiously as possible a contract by which we can make our vaccine supply available.
In our case, it's taken a little longer. I think it was prioritization decisions that were made by our counterpart as to what they thought they
could get their hands on and what made more sense in terms of availability. Moderna, you should keep in mind, is a company that really -- this is its
first product. It's a rather large product in terms of the reach it's had with several hundred million doses. But, nevertheless, it's our first.
Companies like AstraZeneca, J&J and Pfizer had already established infrastructure. And I don't quite blame anybody for prioritizing dealing
with them in ensuring that they have what they thought would be steady supplies. Unfortunately, the way it's played out, the mRNA vaccines proved
to be far more efficacious and far more available than anybody expected.
And so, then there was a bit after scramble to try to get more and more volumes shifted to that technology platform, which, by the way, all of a
sudden caused us to have to react and make sure we can reach appropriate agreement. We've done that. We are very pleased with that. And we look
forward to making our contribution to this fight, because I fully agree, and I've said for a whole year now that this is a pandemic that needs to be
stopped globally not locally.
There is no way we can protect ourselves just by kind of barricading ourselves in. We're going to have to deal with this and it is a global
responsibility and it's a U.S. responsibility, in my view, to play a very active role in dealing with this all over the world.
ISAACSON: Are you surprised by the amount of vaccine hesitancy that's occurred in the United States? And what can you do now to help explain your
vaccine that might overcome that?
AFEYAN: I certainly am concerned that amidst folks that have, for whatever reason, some opposition to a vaccine, there are many, many others that have
been actively confused and that actually, given them current way in which information is disseminated, when there is really no accountability for
what is said, and its veracity, that it's very easy to confuse people.
Because, ultimately, we're talking about people's health. It is ironic, Walter, that in the beginning of our conversation, I've been saying the
thing the pandemic should teach us is that our health is our most important asset. It is not our wealth. It is not our knowledge. Our health is
absolutely underlying everything.
And so, sure. People should be concerned about their health. So, that's not surprising. It's not surprising to me that if you get confused about your
health status and what a vaccine might or might not do, you should be hesitant. But the way to counteract that, then, is through knowledge. Is
through, who do you trust to give you guidance about what the data are telling us?
And I think in the fullness of time, people will be able to sort through the noise and understand that a vaccine is protecting against a viral
infection every minute of the day, every day of the week. This is not something where you kind of can just duck the moment and then after that
you're going to be fine.
And I think that it is probably the most effective health tool that mankind has ever invented in terms of reach and saved lives. And I think when
people look at that and look at the data and the rigor with which we've tested it, they should come to their own conclusion.
ISAACSON: Your report talked about bioplatforms as ways to do preemption against next pandemics. What are bioplatforms?
AFEYAN: Well, in the tech world, in the technology world platforms have become a very powerful concept having to do with a common basis for a
technology or a set of technologies that allow multiple applications, multiple different products or services to come from a common platform.
Think of a search engine as a platform. Think of the Cloud as a platform, a computing platform. These plats shared ride services. These are platforms
that many, many -- of course the very popular one, an iPhone, is a platform where thousands of applications can run.
But in the bioworld, it is as though every single thing is bespoke. Every drug is different. Every disease is different. And there is nothing common
between them. We set out over a decade ago to develop the idea of platforms but for the life science world, and we call these bioplatforms.
And these bioplatforms, like messenger RNA, like microbes as drugs, like red cells that can deliver therapeutics, and there are many dozens of other
ones we have been working on, have an interesting similarity to the tech platforms in that once you establish them, you don't get one drug out of
them, but you get 10 or 20 or vaccines. You don't get one disease that can be detected but 20.
We're, for example, working on a platform where we can, from blood, and we've shown this, you know, quite remarkable data, that we could detect any
and all cancers in a circulating form not only at the late stage, stage four, stage three, stage two, but stage one and even stage zero, that is
before a cancer is diagnosable, you can see the tell-tale signs from it circulating. Now, that platform can be used for many, many different
things. So, that is what we mean by bioplatforms.
From point of view of innovation and investment, the advantage of these things, though, is that you make one common concerted effort to build a
platform and then there are many, many products that come out of it. That's what I mean by bioplatforms.
ISAACSON: Dr. Noubar Afeyan, thank you so much for joining us.
AFEYAN: Thank you, Walter. Thanks for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLODRYGA: Vaccine ovation is indeed an incredible thing.
And finally, a trip back in time to when dinosaurs roamed the earth. A brand-new species of these prehistoric giants has been confirmed in
Australia. The Australia titan, Cooperensis, affectionately nicknamed Cooper, was found in 2007 but its identity remained a mystery until now.
Measuring a whopping two stories tall and a basketball court in length, it is the largest dinosaur ever found in the country and one of the biggest in
the world. Kids will love this no doubt.
Well, that is it for now. Thanks so much for watching and good-bye from New York.