tv CNN Special Report CNN April 3, 2021 6:00pm-8:00pm PDT
the following is a cnn's special report. the coronavirus pandemic is raging out of control in the u.s. >> the health care system is at a tipping point. >> close to 100,000 people. >> close to 300,000 coronavirus deaths. >> the disaster. >> 500,000 people dead from coronavirus. by almost every metric, covid-19 overwhelmed the most
powerful nation on the planet and left all of us searching for answers. >> how can i protect my children? how do we get food? do we go to the supermarket? >> as a doctor, journalist and a father of three, i have been combing for those answers with you. examining the science. >> there's evidence of asymptomatic spread. >> pressing the leaders. >> does that worry you? >> why would you -- >> now for the first time -- >> what was i thinking? >> free from the watchful eyes of the trump white house, the top doctors behind the covid response are ready to talk. about what went right. >> the decision to develop a vaccine may have been the best decision that i've ever made. >> and what really went so very wrong. [ crowd chanting ] >> there were about 100,000 deaths that came from that original surge. all of the rest of them could have been mitigated.
>> i finally had a moment in life where i said enough is enough. >> they had about a 30-day head start. >> i could use the word cover-up. >> i knew i was being watched. >> were you threatened? >> this metaphorical autopsy with the doctors in charge won't bring back the hundreds of thousands of americans we've lost. >> hydroxychloroquine. >> hydroxychloroquine. >> was it the right decision? do you regret rit? >> and it will not be a cure. >> we are still not testing enough. >> it may help us to better understand how we got here. >> all of this was starting from scratch. >> and hopefully how to move forward. >> this is a war. so if you are going to fight a war, you better start shooting at the enemy instead of at each other. >> as bad as this was, it could be worse, and there will be another pandemic. guaranteed. ♪
>> doctors are not often thought to be introspective or reflective. the truth is, most of the doctors i know are just that. tormented by the past, the patients they couldn't help and those whom they've lost. in medicine it is the autopsy that forces us to face our mistakes. an autopsy is far from easy. it is tough to bear witness, and we know it does nothing for the patient on the table, but we do it for the future to ensure that our mistakes are not repeated and the lessons that we learn help us to avoid every future preventable death we possibly can. >> i will figure it out. and i will make sure i don't make the same mistake twice. >> hi, sanjay. >> it is in that same spirit that i sat down with the top doctors in charge of the nation's pandemic response.
>> it was just unbelievable. >> hi, dr. hahn. how are you doing? >> for a year they have carried the weight of the world on their shoulders. >> thank you for your time. >> only to see their tireless efforts and in what could only be described as tragedy. more than 500,000 americans gone. >> yeah, we take off our masks. >> all of the doctors agreed to meet in hopes of trying to figure out why. >> if i told you that 500,000 people would have died by this a year later, would you have believed me? >> no. i would have been horrified that that was even a possibility that would happen. >> this is my haven. >> on an unusually frigid saturday in washington, i joined america's doctor for a long walk. >> we used to run. now we walk. >> alongside his wife and
accomplished scientist kristine grady. >> it is a hawk. >> it is a hawk. >> this morning ritual has served as their refuge for nearly four decades but particularly this past year through the ups and downs of dr. fauci's crusade against covid-19. >> nothing in your life could have probably prepared you for this. >> no. it is like you are drinking out of a fire hydrant and all of these things are happening. there was a time probably it was april or may when new york was on fire in the sense that i was working literal 19 hours a day because i felt i had to. i was so exhausted that i didn't realized how exhausted and it was chris who said one night "time out, do you see what you are doing, you are not eating and not drinking any water. you're not sleeping. that was good she did that. >> it went from 19 hours a day to 16 hours a day.
it did not change much. >> at 80 years old, the nation's leading infectious earned another title of sorts. celebrity. after his steady presence proved one of the few constants in our lives over this chaotic year. >> every once in a while you stop and you think about, my world completely changed. but as it's changing you don't realize it is changing because you're just focusing. we got to get a vaccine and a drug and we got to do this and we got to do that, and every once in a while you say, wait a minute, i got two armed security guards here and i am on a path walking with my wife. what is that all about? >> yeah. >> one year ago this march the death threats began. dr. fauci has had secret service protection every step since. >> all the doctors received death threats. >> you received death threats?
>> from the very beginning. my daughter has got the same text messages. you can't imagine what those text messages look like. a lot of sexual references saying the country would be better off if you were dead. you are misleading the country. your tongue should be cut out. early on i took them to the state department, you know, they said, you just have to keep sending them to us. i didn't have time to do that. >> just a few days after she learned that unlike her long time mentor, dr. fauci, dr. birx would not be asked to continue her work in the biden administration, i spoke with the 64-year-old renowned immunologist about her time in the white house. >> i'm very self-reflective on what could i have done better because i don't ever want us to make the same mistakes. >> is your sentiment right now, are you upset or frustrated or sad?
>> i am encouraged there is a team in the white house. it was very difficult being just one person in the white house. i think people really didn't understand, i was the coordinator of the response. i wasn't the originator of all of the responses. >> hiv was what we call -- >> in march when dr. birx was recalled from her post as global aids ambassador to join the task force, she had little experience working inside a white house and quickly realized that the role of doctors was not going to be at all what she expected. >> thank you, mr. vice president. good evening. >> i underestimated the white house and the politics but throughout these 11 months, dr. fauci and i probably talked or sexted five out of seven days every week. >> our guests are dr. anthony fauci -- >> this was not the first war fauci and birx fought together. before covid-19, the two battled another deadly virus, the hiv-aids epidemic. it was an experience that greatly inched each of their
approaches to this new fight. >> as you were working together, did you have a strategy to do this, good cop or bad cop? >> i was the bad cop. she was the good cop. they referred to me as i would often say as the skunk at the picnic. whenever they would say things are great, i would say, eh, i don't really think so. >> the likelihood there will be 100,000 americans who die from this virus? >> the answer was yes. it was easy for me to say that out loud and just openly say that because i had my base. my base was the nih. but deb had a much more difficult situation. she had an office right there in the west wing. so i am very, very reluctant to condemn anything that even though there are people who feel that she should have pushed more, she probably should have, but, boy, she did a lot of good.
she knocked herself out getting up at 3:00 in the morning and putting that data together and presenting it every day. >> and you had your own group. >> right. >> i love that there's the doctor's group that is an ancillary or separate group. but that was important. >> it was important. we were not secret about it. we were pretty open about it, just not very many people knew about it. by that time, the task force was irregularly meeting. that was particularly when the campaign started and that's when we started with the doctors group. >> we had a very strong coalition between dr. redfield and dr. haub, myself and dr. fauci. i thought it was very important because they were doing house and senate briefings. i wanted them armed with everything i could give them. >> the disinfectant would knock it out in a minute. >> if you knew anything about this white house, they kind of had an anti-science or at least not a significant
science supported reputation. how did you plan on dealing with that? >> i have dealt with presidents and prime ministers around the globe who will often have misperceptions about diseases and the community that that disease impacts. but i have always found that if you can find that common ground with the information and data, they'll change policies. >> he's been so attentive to the scientific literature and the details of the data. and i think -- >> it's part of the reason why i did say at one time the president looked at the data and understood the data because he wouldn't have shut down the country for 15 days and another 30. but that never really happened again because there were too many parallel streams of data. >> americans hear one thing from the cdc director, another from you. who are we to believe? >> you are supposed to believe the science. and i'm telling you the science.
>> these parallel data streams, you think they originated with scott atlas? >> i know some of them came from his team. i don't know where all of them came from. >> what was the motivation, do you think to present data that was inaccurate or at least incomplete? >> i think they felt they were defending their position. and they believe that everything that i did short of that was compromising the american economy, the american lifestyle. in their mind all of those things outweighed the fatalities and the hospitalizations that i was concerned about. but they also never took into account that there could be long-term side effects from an even mild case. >> do you think that's a real possibility? >> i don't know. >> you see with covid-19 it's not just about who lives or dies. but also about those stuck in
between, the long haulers. the unknowns of a new disease we've never seen before. >> i don't think you should say you're mild or asymptomatic and you will be fine. i tracked them all in the white house, because, believe me we had plenty of young people who got infected in the white house and tried to follow up with many of them and some of them took weeks to redevelop their sense of taste and smell. that's unusual. when you see things that linger, you worry about what else is happening that you don't see. >> it is an extraordinary virus. when you're in infectious diseases for your professional life you kind of live in a metaphor and the metaphor is that viruses particularly have a mind. they're smart. they're evil, or they are benign, but a virus that has adapted itself almost
insidiously, adapted itself perfectly to a human, not only am i going to infect you, but i'm going to make sure that many of you don't have symptoms, and i'm going to use them to spread as much as i possibly can. and if i kill the vulnerabilities, i'm not going to eliminate the population, so i'lls always have a lot of people that i can still infect. now, that sounds crazy but that's the metaphor when you deal with infectious diseases, you say damn this virus, it is such a bad, evil virus. >> was there a moment, dr. fauci, when you said, this is the big one? >> yeah. [ sirens ] >> 40% increase in new york hospitals in just 24 hours. >> when i saw what happened in new york city. >> refrigerated trucks are being mobilized as makeshift morgues.
>> almost overrunning of our health care system. it was like, oh, my goodness, and that's when it became very clear that the decision we made on january the 10th to go all out and develop a vaccine. we had a number of vaccine candidates -- may have been the best decision i've ever made with regard to an intervention as the director of the institute. >> the lifesaving and record-breaking vaccines that dr. fauci oversaw were a giant success for the deers, for science and the world. but, remember, a vaccine does nothing for the patient on the table. in this case the hundreds of thousands who perished before science could save them. >> when you look at your data now and you think, okay, had we mitigated earlier and had we actually paused earlier and actually done it, how much
of an impact do you think that would have made? >> i look at it this way, the first time we had an excuse, there were about 100,000 deaths that came from that surge. all of the rest of them in my mind could have been mitigated or decreased substantially if we took the lessons we had learned from that moment. that's what bothers me every day. and that's why i have to be able to process this and understand this because, like you said, in the postmore tem, we have to come out of this and learn how to do it better the next time. >> up next -- the first critical lesson from this autopsy. >> i could use the word cover-up but i don't know that.
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be more successful with payments, payroll, banking and live bookkeeping. to understand any disease but one that is novel, one that scientists have never seen before it is critical to go back to its origin and answer the most basic of questions, where was it first discovered and how? >> the official word from the chinese cdc was not transmissible human-to-human. i had multiple discussions with my counterpart in china i wanted our office in beijing deployed to help them and augment it by 20 or 30 people and get into wuhan and try to answer a few questions, is this human-to-human transmissible, yes or no?
i told them i was concerned of human-to-human transmissible. i said you don't believe mother, father and daughter got it all from an animal. he said, bob, there is no evidence of human-to-human transmissible. >> but that was the evidence of human-to-human? >> it was. i would say by the 5th of january. the 4th or 5th of january. i told him he had to go out in the community and look for people that have unspecified pulmonary illness that didn't go to the sea market and de that and that evening he told me they obviously found a lot of cases and that evening he was quite distraught because he came to the conclusion that the cat was out of the bag. you know? >> when he called you and was so upset, crying and distraught on the phone, that was a warning, wasn't it? he was now officially worried. >> as you remember, the early mortality in china was somewhere between 5% and 10%.
i probably would be crying too. >> wuhan is the city that's massive, 11 million people. it is essentially shutdown. it is locked down. they are not letting anyone out via airport, via train station. >> how much did you trust the information coming out of china initially? >> i always had skepticism about it because of what we went through with sars. you know, people forget but in sars, the chinese were saying, it's flu, it's flew and then the next thing you know that sars was all over the world, in canada and australia, all over the place. so they are not very transparent in the past. it wasn't outright lying. they just didn't give you all the information. >> how big of a difference would it have been if our own investigators had been on the ground in china? >> i think it would have been a significant difference.
>> i think we would be dealing with a different beast. they sold us this is like sars and this is like flu. well, sars and flu, you can go after symptomatic case findings, because they cause symptomatic disease. unfortunately, this virus, the majority probably of its transmission is in the nonsymptomatic stage. >> the chinese reported evidence of transmission in the asymptomatic phase based on data they have reviewed. the cdc has not been given the opportunity to review that data. >> suspicion of the data coming out of china had grown so deep that after chinese scientists released a study on january 24th, confirming the worst case scenario had arrived, their first confirmed asymptomatic infection, redfield, fauci and others in the united states still needed to see the data in order to believe it. >> as bob said and i agree we would really like to see the
data. >> did you believe it? to be true at that time, i mean you are hearing it from china. but on january 28th you said in the history of respiratory borne viruses of any type asymptomatic transmission has never been the driver of outbreaks. >> exactly i said that and it's true. i find it interesting. people throw quotes back at you nine or ten months ago and they say, oh, but you said in the history of respiratory disease, that is an absolutely correct statement, but this was different and that's the point, and we were struggling what is how different is this? >> turns out this novel virus really was different. at least compared to the more recent outbreaks of sars and which saw no significant
asymptomatic spread. it made it harder to diagnose and contain. the question is, why did it take until late march, though for the united states to finally figure that out? >> i think if we had sent our people into wuhan and able to talk to the chinese scientists in a conversation that may have lasted an hour, you could have gotten so much information right from the get-go. they would have told us don't believe what you are reading. this is spread asymptomatically. it spreads highly efficiently and it's killing people. >> do you know why now in retrospect you didn't get in? >> well, i think the china cdc my friend george, i don't think he was in the know either. >> what do you mean. >> george wanted to work -- bring in all of the power of the cdc to work with his cdc to get it done but he wasn't able.
this got clearly managed at a higher political level for some reason within china and i know the president called the president of china to get us in and, you know, i know secretary azar called the secretary and their minister of health to get us in but the bottom line is we didn't get in. >> a year later do you have any reason what that reason is? >> a year after this pathogen started, we are having a critical analysis. that seems a little delayed. all right? i mean, it seems to me that some of the information is people are not being transparent about it. you know, i could use the word cover-up but i don't know so i'm not going to speculate that. >> developing this world, investigators discovered signs of the initial coronavirus outbreak in china was larger than previously thought. >> more questions, fewer answers
over the access and data china gave to the w.h.o. >> it is becoming increasingly clear that this virus is spreading much earlier than we were alerted. >> as soon as george understood it, we understood it. what i am telling you is i think wuhan understood it back in the fall. >> china has vehemently denied any cover upinsisting that it responded to the outbreak in a transparent and responsible manner. and in a statement out of its washington embassy has said that the united states is now pointing fingers at other countries. now while it is almost impossible to know exactly what would have been different or how many lives we could have saved had our experts been allowed inside wuhan earlier, what we do know is that it cost us precious times. >> we said i guess what we need to do is shut down air travel from china because we don't know who's infected or who is not.
>> when i spoke to dr. redfield back in february of 2020, the united states was just beginning to acknowledge that community spread of the virus was inevitable. china by comparison had been well under way preparing for this once in a century pandemic. by constructing brand-new hospitals at extraordinary speed and also amassing emergency supplies according to dr. robert cadlic who served as the hhs assistant secretary for preparedness and response. >> they recognized that something was going on in early december so they had had about a 30-day head start to when they publicly announced on 31, december, that they had this mysterious pneumonia. and so they were already buying things on the mark well in advance of what we were so they make a lot of those materials but things were made here in the united states, we found the domestic supplies were
drying up because of foreign purchases. >> was china being purposely opaque, buying up stuff and not alerting the rest of the world what was going on? what's your impresentsion? >> i don't want to be an apologist for them because they were less than transparent in january honestly. part of this is this is as war that kind of exploded in wuhan for reasons that are still yet clear to me and basically overwhelmed them by their own words, what happened in wuhan was transmitted to every province in china within 30 days. >> if i were to guess, this virus started transmitted sometime in september, october. >> september, october? >> that's my view. i'm allowed to have opinions now. i am of the point of view i think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in wuhan is from a laboratory escaped and other people don't believe that. that's fine. science will eventually figure
it out. it's not unusual for respiratory pathogens being worked on in laboratories to infect the lab workers. >> it is not unusual for that type of research to be occurring in wuhan. the city is a widely known for viral studies in china including the wuhan institute of environment -- virology that experimented with bat coronaviruses. you are the former cdc director and you were the director at the time this was all happening. >> for the first time the former cdc director is stating publicly that he believes this pandemic started months earlier than we knew and that it originated not at a wet market but inside a lab. in china. >> these are two significant things to say, dr. redfield. >> that's not implying any intentionality. it is my opinion.
but i am a virologist. i have spent my life in virology. i do not believe this somehow came from a bat to a human and at that moment in time the virus came to the human, became one of the most infectious viruses we know in humanity for human-to-human transmission. normally when it goes from a zoonode to a human, it takes a while to figure out how to become more and more efficient. i don't think it makes biological sense. >> in the lab do you think that process of becoming more efficient was happening? is that what you were suggesting? >> yes, let's just say i have coronavirus and i'm working on it. most of us in the lab were trying to grow virus and helping it grow better and better so we can do experiments and figure it out. that's the way i put it together. >> chinese officials and state media have been increasingly promoting an unsubstantiated so-called multiple origin theory suggesting the pandemic may have started in various locations
around the world, even a u.s. military lab. the world health organization has called any lab accident theory extremely unlikely. but a team of their scientists allowed inside wuhan more than a year after the outbreak have so far been unable to determine the detin fin tiff origin of the virus and perhaps at this point many wonder if they ever will. >> so less soons learned looking forward, we need a w.h.o. the world needs an organization that coordinates the global health issues, but they need to reform in a way where they can go in and tell the members that you need to give us this information absolutely. and they didn't. china said "no, we are not going to give it to you." and that was it with no consequences and that was -- that was not right and that's got to change. >> next, did we really believe a
contagious virus that was spreading around the world really wasn't going to come here? >> so now you know why i came to the white house. ♪ ♪ we know it's going to take many forms of energy to meet the world's needs while creating a cleaner future for all. at chevron, we're lowering the carbon emissions intensity of our operations, investing in lower-carbon technologies, and exploring renewable fuels of the future.
oh, yeah. lauren, a cooler? it's hot. it's march. and jay, what's with all your screens? just checking in with my team... of colleagues. so you're all streaming on every device in the house, what?!! that was a foul. it's march... ...and you're definitely not watching basketball. no, no. i'm definitely not watching basketball. right... ( horn blaring ) my cholesterol is borderline. so i take garlique to help maintain healthy cholesterol safely and naturally. and it's odor free. i'm taking charge of my cholesterol with garlique. back in 2019 you oversaw an
exercise known as crimson contagion. >> yes. >> in 2019 before the covid-19 outbreak began, dr. cadlic participated in an exercise designed to test our preparedness for a potential pandemic. >> there were a number of lessons learned. i put them into three bins. the first one is really the issue of who's in charge. on a grand scale of something that's happening nationally conceivably simultaneously across several states, that's really beyond the scope of what hhs has the authorities to do. the second one is really the supply chain and the stockpile and our ability in recognizing that there would be a tremendous need for personal protective equipment, and that gets to the third lesson learned, which is money. what money can we scrape up to to buy things. >> who's in charge? do we have the supplies we need?
and do we have the money? these were the same questions that would come up again in february of 2020 except this time officials were facing the real thing. >> what happened on february 21st? >> we had a tabletop exercise. a very serious conversation in the situation room, the john f. kennedy situation room. in the basement of the west wing. >> nearly two months after first learning of the outbreak in china, health secretary alex azar and acting chief of staff mick mulvaney led a meeting of staff and redfield and fauci to perform an exercise closely to crimson contagion. gaming out what might happen should this new virus turn into a pandemic. were there tangible things that came out of that tabletop exercise? >> the tabletop exercise said that we're in for a disaster.
>> we are beginning to appreciate that there were facets to this disease that didn't comport to what we've encountered before. >> what was the conclusion? what was the recommendations? >> the notion was while containment was ideal in terms of our ability to prevent this from entering our country, it is more likely than not that this virus is already in the united states and we need to be prepared to go to mitigation. >> after that tabletop exercise on february 2st, my understanding is you and your colleagues did want to go and brief the president and talk about this plan called four steps to mitigation. what happened? were you able to brief the president? >> i did not. no. >> before the group had a chance to brief trump, dr. nancy, director of the cdc's national center for immew nation and respiratory diseases issued a blunt warning that would infuriate the president.
>> it's not so much a question of if this will happen anymore but rather a question of when exactly it will happen. weaver asking the american public to work with us to prepare in the expectation that this could act bad. >> i think when nancy said what she said, i knew she was seeing what i was seeing. she got moved aside because of saying that. >> i supported her. i thought, you know, that she was beprophetic of how we would get prepared and life who change. >> the cdc said yesterday they believe it's inevitable the virus will spread in the united states, it is not a question of if but when. do you agree with that assessment? >> i don't think it is inevitable. it probably will. it wobble will. it could be at a small level of or it could be at a larger level. whatever happens, we are totally prepared for it. >> nancy got pushed back a lot because of that. she was right on the money.
she hit the nail right on the head. >> i am going to be putting our vice president mike pence in charge. >> when you heard that the vice president was going to be in charge of the task force, what did you think? >> i thought that was a good thing because i thought it was going to elevate it so we can get the attention of the powers that be. >> mike is going to be in charge and mike will report back to me. >> we authorized, right? >> pence's appointment finally answered that first critical question from crimson contagion. who's in charge? but with an important caveat, unlike other government officials who handled health crises in the past, as vice president, there was a different level of accountability. he could not be fired if he failed to perform. but someone who could be fired, the new coordinator for the white house covid task force. >> she will be my right arm. through this. i am grateful that ambassador
deborah birx, also dr. deborah birx will be on our team. >> in march when i arrived, i spent the first week really trying to get some lay of the land. >> the risk to the american people remains very low. >> so first i wanted to make sure that we stopped saying that the risk to americans was low. because i could see, we were not going to be different than europe. we were going to have the same problem. >> the risk to the american public is low. it remains low. >> the risk is low. >> why were we still saying the risk to americans is low at that point? did we believe that a contagious virus that was spreading around the world that was not going to come here? >> so now you know why i came to the white house because i could see the avalanche coming. and i could see that we were not prepared. and i thought i could do
something, but when i arrived that monday morning, i was like we have to do these three things. we've got to get the testing people and treatment and vaccine people in and we have to really talk to the medical correspondents because the community has to understand. we won't make any progress unless the american people really understand all aspects of this so they can interpret it and apply it to their lifestyles because it has to be real to them. and the vice president did all those things that first week. i don't know why he listened to me because we had no prior relationship. he did not know me. clearly some of his office did not support me being there. >> what do you mean? >> there was a group that really believed this wasn't as big a deal as we were making it and there was another group -- impacting people's livelihoods
for not a really good reason, and then there was the other group that just was more fatalistic, that no matter what we did the outcome was going to be the same. >> making an unseen threat real was difficult enough but especially when those in charge according to dr. birx had not fully grasped the extent of the risk either. >> at no time did anyone in the white house give me the opinion that any of them thought there was asymptomatic spread. i don't think the doctors actually knew. >> critics say that even the cdc, the nation's premier health institution was too slow to recognize the threat as well. >> one of the things i was surprised when i became cdc director how much of the core did not exist, day-to-day management, data analytic, it
didn't exist. some health departments are still using fax machines. >> it's our job to make sure the public has the best information. >> dr. brett giroir began as a pediatrician but spent years studying pandemics and leading vaccine development at texas a&m. in 2018, he was named the top medical and science adviser to hhs secretary alex azar. >> i love the people at the cdc. but as an organization, it was not built for operations, right? it's much more of an academic think tank. it really is not meant to be a fully operationalized organization that can scale with the private sector and really work with hospitals in the private industry the way we needed to. >> the nation's federal pandemic infrastructure was not prepared for the crisis that was quickly unfolding. our public health data system, not prepared.
our emergency stockpile supplies not prepared. the supply chain itself, all of it unprepared. >> when we started the pandemic in january, we really didn't know what the status of the supply chain was. we didn't know what hospitals had on hand. we didn't know what the state supplies were. we didn't even know what the commercial distributors had on their chefs and didn't know what was in the manufacturing warehouses. >> why? >> because there was no node to know that. we had a just in time supply chain. >> in january your team drew up contingency plans to enforce the defense production act? >> yes. >> the defense production act gives the federal government power to expedite and expand manufacturing by u.s. industries for the national defense. so what happened there? it wasn't ultimately signed or enacted until sometime later? >> well, the thing is is that in order to invoke the defense production act you have to basically have a contract.
that didn't happen until april because we didn't get our money till march. we could only be prepared for the amount of money that we had. >> dr. cadlic who oversaw the national stockpile has come under fire by a whistle-blower complaint filed by former hhs scientist rick bright who alleges in part that his boss, dr. cadlic and others at hhs were slow to recognize the pandemic threat in its early days. >> i would say i would challenge some of the accuracies of his complaint. >> i think the sort of narrative that he was painting was that he was the one that was sounding the alarm and nobody was listening and you shall others did not see the urgency that he did. >> well, i had the urgency, i mean, there's no doubt i had the urgency and, again, he was one of many voices i listened to to basically say what do we need to do? >> i'll ask admiral brett
giroir, leader of this -- >> when you walked into this pandemic, how far behind do you think we were at that point? >> we had no systems in place. the way to find out how many ventilators were being used is to call up and see, well, who are the manufacturers? we don't know. what's the supply chain? we don't know. how about tubes of transport media, never heard of them before. how many tests do we have in the stockpile? well, there were no tests in the stockpile. how many swabs do we have? we didn't have a single swab so all was starting from scratch. >> coming up, what went so wrong with testing? >> i really felt that we were starting at point zero back then, that we were really unprepared. . the fast way to bring it up to speed. is scotts turf builder rapid grass. rapid grass is a revolutionary mix of seed and fertilizer that will change the way you grow grass.
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♪ testing. many would argue it is the original sin of our covid response. the age-old trap of too little, too late. from the now infamously flawed cdc tests to trump's false pronouncement that anybody that wants a test can get a test. and these problems started from the very beginning. in january of 2020, well before covid-19 was designated a
pandemic, weeks before the united states had their own test, there was already a test available to diagnose the novel virus. >> the world health organization, the w.h.o., had a test that was pretty good, 95% sensitive. >> yes. >> that was january 17th data. was using those tests a consideration for the united states? >> i can honestly tell you i don't know. i think that's something to ask dr. redfield or someone who was involved at that point. >> in order for us to use it, the fda had to review it. but i can tell you it wasn't available in the united states and maybe steve gave you a different answer. >> yeah. i don't know who the w.h.o. would have reached out with respect to that test. i wasn't aware that w.h.o. reached out to fda or had submitted data. >> dr. ryan a pleasure to speak to you -- >> the w.h.o. told me the united states never asked to use its test. >> no. we did not offer the test to the
u.s., which would be standard practice if we were asked. obviously, we would have responded. >> was it a mistake not to use those tests? >> it was a mistake not to use everything that we had and every tool. >> confident in their own abilities, the cdc chose to develop and distribute its own test, a decision that would come to haunt the agency and its director. >> early coronavirus test kits may have been contaminated, leading to a possible delay in the cdc's ability to get those kits to health labs. >> within about five weeks, with the fda's agreement, we got all of the public health labs of this nation to have an effective test. >> so five weeks? >> probably five weeks it took to correct it. >> five weeks, which many have called the lost month. when covid-19 spread across the united states, mostly undetected.
>> i was not a happy camper that cdc decided to manufacture tests. we're not a manufacturing corporation. the private sector was supposed to work with the fda to develop that. >> but the fda added another step to the process. they asked labs to apply for an emergency use authorization or eua to bring their tests to market during a public health emergency. something many labs never had to do before. >> declaration of a public health emergency allows us to use our emergency use authorization authority. that allowed us to use a different, if you will, evidentiary standard and regulatory standard to authorize products. >> that did exhibit the private -- inhibit the private sector from coming in and the academic sector from coming in because that's not something they really were used to. >> we heard this over and over again. we've got this great alternative. we can't get the fda to pay attention. were those fair criticisms?
>> upwards of 60% of the tests that we reviewed had problems with them. and so, the question is, do you want tests that are on the record market just so you can get tests on the market? or do you want there to be some oversight to ensure that the specificity and sensitivity and accuracy is appropriate? >> in the meantime, in addition to that w.h.o. test, other countries were now successfully deploying tests of their own, and the united states was falling further and further behind. >> so far the administration is only testing less than 500 people, and health officials are questioning whether that's enough. >> well, we're testing everybody that we need to test. and we're finding very little problem. >> we had received a lot of comments from folks in those laboratories that the process was slow. and it was at that point that we decided to revise, to allow them to go to market without authorization. >> the fda did revise their rules, but it wasn't until
mid-march that the eua requirement was dropped entirely, right as infections in the united states began to spike and new confirmed cases in those countries with aggressive testing began to fall. >> we're seeing a decrease in cases across asia. what we know works is testing. >> testing worked. but only if you were testing the right people. both people with symptoms and without. >> the only way we're going to know where this virus is is if we test people. at the time we were thinking we didn't need that because we could pick out people with symptoms. >> in the spirit of postmortem, without pointing any fingers, the stance we took was you test somebody who is symptomatic. and not everybody who wants a test should get a test, only those who need a test. >> and we were wrong. >> the priorities for testing and who we recommended to be
tested directly match what our capabilities were, right? and that's just a fact. march 4th we're talking about 75,000 tests available in the entire united states. okay? from one source. >> anybody that wants a test can get a test. >> the president's remarks two days later on march 6th simply weren't true. making it more apparent than ever that someone needed to take charge of the nation's testing. >> we need to have someone in charge of making sure that as many people as possible across this country have access to getting tested as soon as possible. who is that person? is it you? is it the vice president? >> as i tried to explain to congress -- >> his answer was i really don't know. it was the next day, essentially, that you were appointed the testing czar. three months into things or, you know, middle of march now, time frame, it's basically been declared a pandemic at this point. why are there hardly any tests out there?
why at that point? >> so of course i ask myself that question a lot. and my best answer is a few different answers. >> over a million tests have been distributed before the end of this week. another four million tests will be distributed. >> when we said there were millions of tests available, there weren't, right? there were components of the test available, but not the full deal. none of these things worked in a vacuum. they needed to be brought together in a reasonable way. it seems like such a small thing, but if you don't have that kind of coordination put together, it doesn't get done. >> coordination, though, was far from the other fundamental issue. according to the doctors, it was the administration's overall attitude toward testing as well. >> people really believed in the white house, that testing was driving cases rather than testing is a way for us to stop cases. >> if we didn't do any testing,
we would have very few cases. >> testing was this flash point. it continued to be a flash point. i think that's why scott atlas was so powerful when he came into the white house because he really didn't believe in testing for asymptomatic cases. >> thank you, mr. president. >> dr. scott atlas joined the trump administration as a special adviser on covid in august. a concerning choice, given that atlas is not an infectious disease expert. his specialty is in diagnostic radiology. dr. atlas had already made his controversial views on testing clear, even before arriving at the white house. >> there is absolutely no reason to require massive, widespread testing. >> just weeks after his arrival and months into the pandemic, the cdc reversed their guidance to exclude most asymptomatic testing. >> the agency now says that people exposed to coronavirus
may not need to be tested. >> once i saw it and saw how it was being interpreted, i made sure it was changed because it was not the message the cdc was going to put out. that wasn't the message i was going to put out. as you know, that's why i changed that guidance. >> was there pressure on you or the organization to put out a message like that? >> i wouldn't say there's pressure. you know, i've not been silent about my points of view that dr. scott atlas, his perspective was, in my view, allowed him to ill-inform a lot of people. as a consequence, it kind of negated dr. birx's, dr. redfield's, dr. fauci's voice at the highest levels of government. >> i felt very strongly that i didn't want an action that legitimized in any way his position. >> total opulation isolation is actually preventing the development of herd immunity where the actual network of
infection can be blocked, protecting the vulnerable. >> when scott atlas said, hey, i think herd immunity in certain populations should be the way to go, i mean, what were those conversations like then? >> they were pretty heated because it is clear that dr. atlas' position is that we should just sort of let it go in the healthy population and create herd immunity. that is not up for question. day one when he showed up, that was very clear. it was written as his view. the subtlety here, though, is he thought, as you could protect the vulnerable and let the well build up this herd immunity and dr. birx and i and the rest of the doctors said this is a fallacy, right? s. >> it was a community-spreading event and there was no way to ring fence vulnerable americans. they truly believe that that was possible. >> cnn reached out to dr. scott atlas for comment on the doctor's views, but he never
responded. >> we were not testing enough. >> agreed. >> we're still not testing enough. >> i agree with you. i told you. >> why not? >> i think people have been talking about how many tests we have rather than sitting back and saying, how many tests we need. we need to be doing about 5 million tests a day to get testing positioned as a critical part of the mitigation plan. >> you know, obviously we started very late. i think they worked very hard to bring testing up, but we were always behind in testing. when we come back -- >> put your mask on, you idiot! >> the clash between science and politics. >> masks should have never become a dividing line in our country. could get all sorts of e policy perks like the claim-free discount. go three years without a claim and get a discount. (neighbor) just by phoning it in? (burke) just phone it in. (painter 1) yeah, just phone it in and save money for being claim-free. (neighbor) even if i switch to farmers today?! (painter 2) yep, three years claim-free with any home insurance.
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as scientists around the world worked day and night to create a vaccine for covid-19, there were already simple things we could do to slow the spread of this virus. wear a mask, wash our hands, physically distance. the same things we did more than 100 years ago, the last time a pandemic this deadly ravaged the world. but just like back then, some of us chose not to.
in a country of plenty, we too often wait for science to rescue us. to pull us out of the fire. but the better choice, preventing the fire in the first place. >> my administration is recommending that all americans, including the young and healthy, work to engage in schooling from home when possible, avoid gathering in groups of more than ten people. >> we gave the strong recommendation that we really shut things down as best we can. >> how hard a sell was it? >> you know, we were sitting around the resolute desk talking to him about it and i thought that he accepted it really well. i really did. >> our government is prepared to do whatever it takes, whatever it takes. >> i think that at that moment in time the white house believed that this was serious. and i think part of what drove that is the president's understanding that he had a friend dying, part of that understanding was seeing elmhurst hospital and
understanding that that could be repeated in 6,000 hospitals around the united states. >> when you saw how much that exploded in a way that we have never seen before but didn't just explode with the number of cases but almost overrunning of our health care systems. >> in the face of the unimaginable, the doctors devised an unprecedented 15 day shutdown plan, which ultimately expanded into 45 days. it was the doctors' attempt to flatten the curve, to present a -- prevent a surge in cases and to buy us some time to answer the inevitable question. >> now, what are we going to do? we can't stay shut forever, so let's open up. but if you want to open up, you better open up carefully. you got to have 14 days of coming down in the slope, and you go to phase one. and you have another number of days coming down on the slope.
you may have some blips, but in general the trend has to be down. and that's how you wind up trying to open up. >> if you look at that opening criteria, it was written and gamed out so that no state could really make it through all of those gates before august, which i, in my mind, thought would give us enough time to really get testing and ppe and everything that we needed together. >> that's not what happened. >> states that had been very good about the 45 days to slow the spread then completely ignored the opening criteria. i didn't see coming that no one would follow, really, the gating criteria, including the average american. so when memorial day came, it was -- it was shocking. >> that's when i believe there was really a problem. some try to do it right, but the
constituents in the state didn't hardly pay any attention. >> covid is a fraud! it is a scamdemic. >> i got a reputation on the outside of not caring about the economy, only caring about the public health. but, you know, i didn't want to see the country go down the tubes. but i also was very adamant that if we did it correctly that we could open up the country and open up the economy and still not have a soaring of cases. >> i don't want to get emotional, but we have had enough. we have to support our families. >> open arizona! >> people are hurting. people are hungry. it's ridiculous. >> other parts of the world seemed to have done a lot better. was that a uniquely american problem? why did this happen here versus other places around the world? >> so i was in asia during sars. i could see the population move as one in many of the asian countries.
within minutes of the sars pandemic, every single shop in the narita terminal had masks on. they had the experience of masking entire society because of sars. they were ready. and they moved as one. >> open us up! open us up! >> mirroring our politics, conspiracies about the shutdown multiplied. >> this plan democrat >> and as the protests grew, the president chimed in. >> our country wasn't built to be shut down. >> the thing that hit me like a punch to the chest was then all of a sudden he got up and says, liberate virginia, liberate michigan. i said to myself, oh, my goodness. what is going on here? it shocked me because it was such a jolt to what we were trying to do. >> and the one policy he gave to
me in april which was the last time i really had any briefing with him in that kind of way was, we will never shut the country down again. >> compounding the growing backlash against the doctors' recommendations to stay home was a stark reversal in guidance from the cdc on an issue bizarrely politicized more than any other in this pandemic, masks. >> the cdc is now recommending the use of face coverings when any of us goes out in public. >> for several weeks, the doctors had been advising americans not to wear masks. >> we do not recommend them to be used by the general public. >> people should not be walking around with masks. >> on march 8th you told "60 minutes," you were not recommending masks for every day americans. we know it's spreading in communities and asymptomatically. why not masks at that point? >> we were told at the level of the task force that we have a real shortage of masks, so we don't really want the whole
country going out and trying to use up all the masks. our health care providers were putting themselves in danger every day of taking care of people who you know are sick. we don't want them to go without masks. so what changed? a, all of a sudden there was no shortage because you could get a cotton mask and you could put it on and you could be protected. number two, we didn't know that cloth masks work. the third thing, it became imminently clear that asymptomatic people were spreading infection. >> the cdc is advising the use of non-medical cloth face covering. >> the same day the cdc began recommending masks, the president publically dismissed them. >> i don't think i'm going to be doing it. >> and would continue to mock them throughout the campaign season. >> i wore one in this back area, but i didn't want to give the
press the pleasure of seeing it. >> maybe they're great and maybe they're just good, maybe they're not so good. >> in fact, it was just the opposite. new studies revealed that masks and specifically double masking could prevent the spread of covid-19 by upwards of 90%. but even after contracting the virus himself, the president was often seen without one of our most powerful tools at that time to stop it. >> masks should have never become a dividing line in our country. >> i mean, if he's not wearing a mask, i'm not going to wear a mask. if he's not worried, i'm not worried. >> the president? >> yes, sir. >> well, a violation of my [ bleep ] constitutional rights and my civil rights! >> the divisiveness in our society that prevented us from attacking a common enemy in a common way. and the enemy was the virus, but it seemed that we in our own country were fighting with each other, instead of fighting with
the virus. >> i have to tell you, when we last met in november at the white house, this is post-election, the president, members of his family and people within the white house had been infected with the virus. and i was so struck inside at the white house at that time how few masks i saw. did it strike you? >> well, that was my world every day. there was a feeling in the white house from the beginning. and i don't know if this is true or not because i never confronted the president because i didn't have access to him by that time. that the president was not supportive of mask wearing in the white house. and that trickled down through every single leader. there was one event in the rose garden. it was made clear that they didn't want us wearing masks. and so all of the cabinet
officials, and even some of the military members, took their mask off. dr. fauci and i did not, and you can see we are way in the back because they didn't want us front and center and masked. >> you were the covid coordinator and no one around you is wearing masks. that must have felt like you were being marginalized, that people weren't listening to you. >> i was marginalized every day. that is no question. i would say a majority of people in the white house did not take this seriously. >> next -- >> that was a line in the sand for me. >> the doctors are pushed to their limits. >> and i finally had a moment in life where i said, you want to fire me, fire me. enough is enough. (announcer) carvana's had a lot of firsts.
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scientists and doctors like to consider themselves above the political fray, immune to the whims of whichever party may be in power. the reality is far more complicated, particularly during a pandemic. this past year, if anything, has revealed the high price we all pay when science and partisan politics collide. >> so when did you officially take the job as commissioner? >> the 17th of december 2019. >> heck of a time to become the fda commissioner. >> for sure. >> six weeks after you formally take the job, they declared a public health emergency. how worried were you? >> i was substantially concerned. i don't think any of us understood the magnitude of the response that would be necessary.
>> dr. steven hahn was a washington outsider. a medical and radiation oncologist. he was most recently lauded for his role as top medical his critics warned that his lack of policy experience posed some serious challenges for a critical role that requires deft political savvy. >> president trump began touting hydroxychloroquine back in march. >> and you have hydroxychloroquine. i think it could be very exciting. i think it could be game changer. >> you came up right after that and explained that clinical trials were going to be needed. >> we want to do that in the setting of a clinical trial, a large, pragmatic clinical trial to actually gather that information and answer the question that needs to be asked and answered. >> just nine days later, march 28th, the fda issued an emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine. do you think you would have done the same thing if president
trump wasn't touting hydroxychloroquine the way that he was? >> given the publicity around hydroxychloroquine, if there hadn't been that publicity, the need in terms of the stress on the system and the shortages of the drugs wouldn't have been there. >> risk/reward. that's the metric that you use for an eua. >> ultimately. >> was the risk higher than the reward for that eua for hydroxychloroquine? >> we didn't think that initially because we made the decision to go forward with the eua. >> you had no basis to say that the reward was going to be greater than the risk. you yourself said we need to study this. >> so, with anything, you use the data at the time. and as you know, the center for drug evaluation research used a published article that was performed, phase two trial, with respect to hydroxychloroquine that should benefit in hospitalized patients. it formed the basis for that risk/reward assessment, plus 30 years experience with the drug. >> a lot of good things have come out about
the hydroxy -- a lot of good things have come out. >> president trump even called it -- >> a gift from heaven. >> he was convinced that it would work. >> but it didn't work, and the fda revoked the eua for hydroxychloroquine two and a half months after it was first authorized. their scientists had concluded that the drug was unlikely to be an effective treatment for covid-19 and was even tied to serious cardiac events. risk higher than reward. >> do you think people were hurt because of that eua? >> we sent out a safety alert i think sometime in april or may regarding the potential for increased risk of heart side effects. but i do believe once we collected the data and had the information that we made the appropriation decision and revised that based upon the data we had. >> you have had a year now roughly to reflect on that. was it the right decision? >> i think it was the right decision at the time. i also think that the revocation of that eua was the right decision.
>> what is the lesson? >> you know, i think my lesson from that is that the discussion around medical interventions for a public health emergency are best held by medical experts. >> next? next, please. >> when the president, from whatever podium he's at, talked about a therapeutic or some medical intervention, that became a political football, frankly. and it was an unfortunate situation. >> i will turn it over to dr. hahn, if it is okay, mr. president. >> what was your relationship like with secretary azar? >> strained. there were certain situations where we had basic disagreements. and laboratory developed tests is a perfect example. >> where are your tests now? >> in august, after months after debate surrounding the fda's role in approving covid-19 tests, secretary azar revoked the agency's power to regulate tests. >> that was a line in the sand
for me because i knew this oversight was important and i knew the fda stamp of approval meant something. it was reported in the press that we had a shouting match and i can 100% assure you i did not shout and scream at the secretary of health and services. >> did he shout at you? >> you should ask him that question. >> if the secretary of health is screaming at the fda commissioner in the middle of a public health emergency, that's a problem. >> yeah. there was definitely that sort of pressure, sanjay. you know, it's true. at the end of the day, someone's trying to ask me to do something that i don't think is right, and my patient, the american people, need something different. >> former hhs secretary alex azar told us in a statement that, quote, fda's illegal assertion of jurisdiction over common lab developed tests slowed the development of u.s. covid testing and that dr. hahn's recitation of this call is incorrect.
the only intemperate conduct according to azar was dr. hahn's threat to resign. dr. hahn told cnn he never threatened to resign on the call. >> i really had dreams that she -- he was going to be unbelievable and have a great relationship with the secretary. he would have total confidence and just let me run the cdc. unfortunately, that's not -- i don't think that's the deal hahn got either. a lot of people think the challenges that the cdc had, me, were with the white house. i didn't have really difficult challenges with the white house. the challenge i had was with the office of the secretary. >> what happened? >> i think some of the ones that were the most notable that i was the most offended by was the calls that wanted me to pressure and change the mmwr. >> the mmwr is the morbidity and mortality weekly report, a cdc published roundup of important research on death and disease as well as recommendations. it is highly revered in the world of public health.
doctors and scientists of all stripes rely on these reports to inform their decisions, often decisions of life and death. >> i was on more than one occasion called by the secretary and his leadership, directing me to change the mmwr. now, he may deny that, but it's true. the one time that was the most egregious was not only was i pressured by the secretary and his office and his lawyers as i was driving home, his lawyer and his chief of staff called and pressured me again for at least another hour, even to the point of, like, accusing me of failing to make this change that would cost, you know, thousands of lives. i finally had a moment in life where i said, you know, enough is enough. you know? if you want to fire me, fire me. i'm not changing the mmwr. >> the former secretary declined our request to be interviewed.
but provided a statement which states in part that, quote, any suggestion that i pressured or otherwise asked dr. redfield to change the content of a single scientific peer reviewed mmwr article is false. in a separate statement, azar's former chief of staff, general counsel and other senior staff members also pushed back at redfield's account stating that, quote, secretary azar and his immediate staff always regarded the mmwr as sacrosanct. >> i'm struck because i hear of things happening in the united states and i think those are the sorts of things that happen in other countries. they don't happen here. and then you describe a situation like this, that's the united states? it's hard to believe. >> yeah, it was hard. but one thing you will know about me, sanjay, is i spent 23 years in the military. i am a command chain kind of guy. and if i can't stay in the command chain, then i'll leave. i will decide to stay as long as i think i still have value for the nation, and that's what i
did. >> after the break -- >> what happened? >> i got called by the president. >> another autopsy lesson. >> were you threatened? ♪ ♪ we know it's going to take many forms of energy to meet the world's needs while creating a cleaner future for all. at chevron, we're lowering the carbon emissions intensity of our operations, investing in lower-carbon technologies, and exploring renewable fuels of the future. we work hard to care for the homes we love. but it's only human... to protect the one we share. dignity. this thing you can neither see nor measure... ...but that demands the return of small moments illness attempts to steal. ♪ dignity demands a rapid covid test, ♪ because we all need an answer to move forward.
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residency training to become a surgeon, a favorite professor of mine told me something i'd never forget. i was on call for the first time, and as he was leaving me alone in the hospital, he said, call me if you need me. but if you do, it will be a sign of weakness. through the years, i thought a lot about that conversation. what it said about him, about our profession. and mostly about leadership, the delicate balance of strength and humility, especially in a time of crisis. which brings us to our final lesson. this is a novel coronavirus. how do you make big decisions in the face of so little known and so much uncertainty? >> you do it with trying to grasp as much data as you can within that really limited time frame, use experience and then
maybe some good judgment. but there is a danger there because if you are in it, things are going to change. >> dr. fauci has seen quite a bit of change in his career. president biden is now the seventh president he has advised. seven very different leaders. >> i had a very good friend, and he knew me well. and what he said was, do yourself a favor. every time you go into the white house, whisper to yourself, this may be the last time i'm walking into the white house. i took his advice. i did it with clinton. i did it with george w. bush. i did it with obama. and i did it with trump. the only trouble is, with trump it became much more dramatic because i literally had to get up and directly contradict something he said. >> you know, the answer is no. >> and that was something that,
you know, we know the story of that. >> fire fauci! fire fauci! fire fauci! >> don't tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election. [ cheers ] >> some people, i think, give the idea that somehow in that environment there was a lot of pressure not to say what you had to say. that may be true from a number of people. i didn't experience that. >> first i want to thank you for your decisive leadership in helping us put public health first. >> that cdc tour, you heard the president say -- >> anybody that wants a test can get a test. >> it wasn't true. you also praised him. >> well, i praised him for his leadership and his divisive leadership in shutting down air travel to china, which i did feel was a decisive decision which, having been in the room, there was a lot of pushback. that's not to say i praised him for decisive leadership across the board.
but i would like to say that i found the president to listen to what i had to say, really listen. >> so i'll ask dr. redfield, who is a real professional, to come up and explain. please. >> did you feel you were prepared to take this job as head of the cdc? >> thank you, mr. president. >> yes, i did. i think that i know there's some that may not have felt that, but i think i trained my whole life for this. >> do you want to respond to that? do you have the numbers? >> sure, i have the numbers. >> people have had a lot of perceptions of me. they made that very clear. i understand that. did i handle it perfectly? i am sure i did not. our federal messaging was not consistent. i heard it from every state of how important the president and vice president messaging was and how critical it was to get them on message. i was not capable of keeping the
white house on a message. but i will tell you when i sat with the president and said to him, with these kinds of curves, it's going to be worse than anything we have seen before. and i can't carry the message that the white house is carrying right now. and the vice president looked at me and said you do what you need to do. to me that was permission to really take the message that i needed and people should know, i flew to these places on his plane. and that's why we developed the whole state-level strategy. >> deb would be with her suitcase getting on a plane and visiting everybody. i would be constantly on the phone with governors and mayors talking about what they need to do. >> i would be allowed to be very frank. >> this is the least use of
masks that we have seen. >> and that facilitated to be frank with regional and local press and governors and mayors and be very clear about mask mandates and closing bars and severely restricting indoor dining and all of these elements that i was never allowed to say nationally. >> were you being censored? >> clearly someone was blocking me from doing it. my understanding was i could not be national because the president might see it. >> you know, i don't want to get into rehashing the white house situation, but i can say without hesitation that the vice president is a really good person, a good human being. and he really tried to get a good discussion around. but the discussion, you know, it never got to the point where there were things that needed to be done that got up and were agreed upon right up the chain.
>> for me, he provided me the only support that i got from anybody in leadership. >> i'm going to yield to the expert. >> but ultimately the leadership the doctors needed and that americans were depending on was from the president himself. >> people are tired of hearing fauci and all these idiots. >> we're rounding the turn. they hate it when i say it. >> no matter what the task force did or said, after that initial shutdown in march, trump's public message never fully aligned with the doctors again. >> i knew i was being watched. everybody inside was waiting for me to make a misstep so that they could, i guess, remove me from the task force. >> it is extraordinarily >> it is extraordinarily widespread. >> the cnn report in august that got horrible pushback. everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus.
>> that was a very difficult time because everybody in the white house was upset with that interview and the clarity that i brought about the epidemic. >> i can tell just by reading your face that was a really tough time. what happened? >> well, i got called by the president. >> what does he say? >> well, i think you have heard other conversations that people have posted with the president. i would say it was even more direct than what people have heard. it was very uncomfortable, very direct and very difficult to hear. >> were you threatened? >> i would say it was a very uncomfortable conversation. >> i think the idea that people may have been muzzled, when you're in the middle of the biggest public health crisis of our lifetime, is really concerning. does he threaten you?
>> he felt very strongly that i misrepresented the pandemic in the united states, that i made it out to be much worse than it is. i feel like i didn't even make it out as bad as it was. i mean, there was a lot of parts of the united states that weren't prepared. there was a lot of anti-maskers. there was a lot of covid deniers. and i was worried that the virus would intersect with that. >> for you, what is the lesson learned here then? how much of this was because of a lack of a national message, national leadership on these issues? >> absolutely key. i mean, the federal government did not provide consistent messaging to the american people. and that is fault number one. >> when we return, the conclusion of our covid autopsy. >> this is a war. >> what was the biggest failure?
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a staggering 1 in 3 americans has now lost someone to covid-19, according to a recent survey. one in three. it's a painful reality that has solidified this pandemic as one of the deadliest chapters in american history. but what is still yet to be written is what we do next. will we as a nation heed the lessons of our failures?
or will we wait and continue to hope and pray that science will somehow be there again eventually to rescue us? >> drug-maker pfizer is reporting that early data from its vaccine trial has shown it to be 90% effective. >> are you there? welcome. >> hello, dr. goodman. >> i get a call on my cell phone, and it's al. >> he said, tony, are you sitting down? and i said yeah. and he said, it's more than 90%. and i got to tell you, it was like, oh, my god. it was -- it was just like this emotional catharsis. and then a week later, moderna got exactly the same results. it was like beyond your expectation. >> you don't always get a home run in science. the mrna vaccine is a home run.
it's a home run from the standpoint of how quickly and how excellent and how well the trials were done. >> but even with a home run in hand, some of the same pressures that plagued the doctors' efforts throughout the response were also threatening their greatest success. >> we're very close to that vaccine, as you know. and i think closer than most people want to say or certainly closer than most people understand. >> how did that translate to you? >> i can just tell you from the fda's perspective, yes, we felt pressure. i can tell you that no one called me on the phone and said i want a vaccine approved before election day. >> the president never said that to you. ed. >> the president never said that to me. get it out as quickly as possible, yes, to save lives. that was the conversation. but everyone heard what was being said publicly. >> we have the best vaccines in the world and they're coming momentarily.
>> the president believed there was politics at play with respect to when the data was released, that it could have been released earlier, that it was done to hurt his re-election chances. >> i can categorically tell you from my point of view as fda commissioner that we did not play politics with respect to the timing of the release of the data. >> the fda is reportedly considering stricter guidelines for the emergency authorization of a covid vaccine. >> that sounds like a political move. >> it strikes me, mr. hahn, the idea that that job, fda commissioner, which is so predicated on science and evidence and data, should also be a politically appointed job. in the spirit of this autopsy, are there lessons there going forward? should the fda commissioner be a politically appointed position? >> having a set term, potentially that's outside of the political schedule, if you will, i think there is some real benefits to the consideration of that. >> i personally have felt, and i will as a former cdc director,
share my opinion to those that will listen that this job would be a 7 to 10-year appointment. i feel the same way about nih and the fda. i think these are important jobs to get out of the political cycle, for sure. >> cdc, fda, nih, these aren't just important jobs. they represent our country's most trusted scientific institutions. and over the past year that trust has sadly eroded. a legacy of this pandemic that many worry will outlast all of the doctors who tried to lead us through it. >> whether right or wrong, history will tell. i know we gave it everything we did. we were honest with the american people. and i do believe that all of us want the biden administration to be enormously successful and to do things that we never did. >> is this an emotional time for you? >> yes, it's an emotional time. i felt the lives of everybody's
grandmother on my shoulders. >> it's not just the depth of the loss of the fatalities. it is the crippling anxiety and fear that people have lived with. is their loved one going to survive? are they going to see them again? and when you see how other countries that are similar to us were able to get their children into school you can't look at any of this and say it was okay. >> the best we could do seemingly, if you look at the data, was be the worst in the world in terms of overall number of cases. what did we miss? >> we have a terrific care system. we don't have a public health or well care system. and that's really the fundamental paradox. >> reason the mortality rate is greater in america than it is in these other countries is not because our doctors don't foe how to take care of these patients. the reason is unfortunately the
american public is less healthy. a third of us can meet the criteria for being defined as obese. you don't find that in south korea. >> we saw it by the degree of co-morbidities in our population. >> 96% of the individuals who died from covid had these co-morbidities. >> people may still say look, i don't want to be the guy that authorized billions of dollars in spending every year for a threat that never happened. yeah, a pandemic may come again but maybe not for 100 years. >> and here's my answer to that. we have seen what the cost of unpreparedness has been, right? we have 11 aircraft carriers. we invest in those at about $17 billion a pop to build. we're talking about one aircraft carrier investment to make america not only safer but healthier. >> i would hope that as a nation
we realize that we can't do it this way again. this is a war. so if you're going to fight a war you better start shooting at the enemy instead of at each other. >> maybe you and i will be having this conversation again. i hope we're not over a pandemic. but if we are do you think things will be different? >> i can't guarantee it but i hope so. i'm nervous about the intensity of the divisiveness in the country right now. >> hey, doctor, how are you? >> president biden is doing a lot of things to really get science back on track. so i'm looking forward to the next four years. >> the idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know, what the evidence -- what the science is, and -- >> after speaking with the doctors just days after the new administration took over -- >> it is somewhat of a liberating feeling. >> -- it occurred to me that only dr. fauci will be able to continue his work and see this fight through until the end. something that was not lost on
dr. birx either. >> i try not to think about this from a personal perspective because it's devastating to think about it from a personal perspective of what people are saying and how people have interpreted your actions. but it's important for america at this moment, for them to have a clean break. >> thank you, mr. president. >> dr. fauci in many ways has earned the reputation as sort of america's doctor through all this. and a lot of times people refer to you by your scarves. why do you think that is? >> i followed every place i went. obviously i came up in a very difficult time. very few women in medicine. almost no women in the military. that's the world that i have been in my entire life. we're just held to a very different standard. and i think we have to be very careful that a lot of these
perceptions still continue. >> at the end of the postmortem you have to write down the primary cause of death. what would you write when it comes to this pandemic? >> not being as prepared as we thought we were and not implementing what we knew worked. >> i would probably write in the top line is a lack of transparency early on from china as the cause of death. >> i would say that we lacked the public health infrastructure that could confront the pandemic at the time we had to use one. >> i think it's the environment in which the outbreak occurred in our country. >> we are so divided and there's a lot of mistrust across the board in the u.s., and we need to overcome that and we need to come together. >> for me one of the big ones was hubris. and it transcends i think institutions. it transcends personalities. it was this idea that somehow we
could just weather our way through this. >> what's the therapeutic for hubris? >> oh, i think what we've experienced, a hard lesson. hard series of lessons. that's the opportunity in the midst of this challenge. where do we go from here? as bad as this was, it could be worse. and there will be another pandemic. guaranteed. ♪
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