On this "Face the Nation" broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:
- Dr. Moncef Slaoui, Chief Adviser, Operation Warp Speed
- Chris Krebs, Former Director, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency
- James Linder, Nebraska Medicine CEO
- Mayor Lori Lightfoot, D-Chicago
- Scott Gottlieb, M.D., Former FDA Commissioner
Click here to browse full transcripts of "Face the Nation."
MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm Margaret Brennan in Washington. And this week on FACE THE NATION, new COVID-19 infection and death rate records are being shattered on a daily basis, as we face the most brutal six-week period of the coronavirus pandemic. Exactly four weeks after former Vice President Biden won the 2020 election, President Trump unloaded before a mostly maskless crowd at a campaign rally in Georgia for two Senate Republicans facing January runoff elections.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: If I lost, I would say I lost. But you can't ever accept when they steal and rig and rob.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Obsessed with his alternative reality of so-called voting irregularities, the President refuses to deal with what his health advisors warn could be a surge on top of a surge in coronavirus cases and deaths facing the U.S. in the next few months.
DR. ROBERT REDFIELD: They're going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation, largely because of the stress that it's going to put on our health care system.
MARGARET BRENNAN: With the virus surging across the country, hospitals are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. On top of non-corona hospitalizations, are they close to the breaking point? We'll talk to the head of Nebraska Medicine, James Linder, and we'll take a look at the massive undertaking of vaccinating hundreds of millions of Americans with the head of Operation Warp Speed, Doctor Moncef Slaoui. And as always, we'll check in with former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb. Finally, Chris Krebs was head of the agency tasked with protecting the integrity of the 2020 election. He called it the most secure in history, and the President fired him. We'll talk with him.
It's all just ahead on FACE THE NATION.
Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION. The numbers of new COVID-19 infections, new deaths, and new hospitalizations in the U.S. continue to spiral out of control. The coronavirus was the number one cause of death in the U.S. for the first time last week, surpassing both cancer and heart disease. And the staggering task of deciding who gets the vaccine first, how it will be distributed, as well as when, is underway. We begin this morning with CBS national correspondent Mark Strassmann in Atlanta.
CROWD (in unison): Fight for Trump. Fight for Trump.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Thank you, folks.
MARK STRASSMANN (CBS News National Correspondent): Saturday night in Georgia, President Trump twisted a Senate runoff rally into a festival of falsehoods.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The swing states that we're all fighting over now, I won them all by a lot.
MARK STRASSMANN: He claimed baselessly dark forces had conspired against a second Trump term in the White House.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We're all deeply disturbed and upset by the lying, cheating, robbing, stealing that's gone on with our elections.
MARK STRASSMANN: What deeply disturbed health officials, all of these rally-goers wearing no masks. Nationally, COVID has surged from crisis to calamity. Expect its peak in mid-January. One American now dies from the virus every thirty-three seconds.
WOMAN: And then the really sick ones that passed away without family, that sucks a lot.
MARK STRASSMANN: Friday set a single-day record, two hundred twenty-seven thousand new cases. For the first time, America's hospitals now treat more than one hundred thousand COVID patients. In Nevada, patients with the virus occupy thirty percent of all hospital beds, the country's highest rate. California is running out of ICU beds. This weekend, the state launches regional stay-at-home orders that will last at least three weeks.
GAVIN NEWSOM: If we don't act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed.
MARK STRASSMANN: Hypocrisy alert. Austin Mayor Steve Adler urging discipline in a COVID surge.
STEVE ADLER: You need to, you know, stay home if you can. This is not the time to-- to relax.
MARK STRASSMANN: Problem was, he shot this video from his timeshare condo in Cabo San Lucas. President-elect Biden wants all of us to wear masks for the first one hundred days of his administration. Could be a tough sell. President Trump insists the election was rigged, and tens of millions of Trump supporters believe him, despite zero proof. Tuesday is the federal deadline for all states to certify their votes, ahead of the Electoral College meeting later this month. Every battleground state already has.
MARK STRASSMANN: With change coming in the White House, you can expect a more coordinated national response to COVID from the CDC, rather than a state by state patchwork policies over the last nine months. Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mark Strassmann, thanks.
We want to go now to the chief adviser of the US vaccine effort. That's Operation Warp Speed. Doctor Moncef Slaoui joins us from just outside of Philadelphia. Good morning.
MONCEF SLAOUI, PhD (Operation Warp Speed Chief Adviser): Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: People hear a vaccine's on the horizon and they may let down their guard over the next few weeks. How long before we could see a vaccine have an impact on lowering infections?
MONCEF SLAOUI: Well, I think we may start to see some impact on the most susceptible people probably in the month of January and February, but the-- on a population basis for-- for-- for our lives to start getting back to normal, we're talking about April or May. And therefore, it's absolutely vital that everybody, A, take comfort in the fact that we have light at the end of the tunnel and find the energy in that to continue to wear our masks, distance, wash our hands, pay attention to what we are doing, to make sure that we are there by the spring to benefit from the vaccine.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Thank you for that. When it comes to actually delivering shots in the arms, Russia, the U.K. are about to begin that in the next few days. The U.S. still has not approved its vaccine, the first in line from Pfizer. Are you confident it will be approved in the next five days?
MONCEF SLAOUI: The FDA is making sure it's doing it the way it always does it, including full transparency, public discussions with its advisory board made of independent experts. I-- based on the data that I know, I expect the FDA to make a positive decision. But, of course, it's their decision. And as you probably know, they are totally separated and firewalled from the operation. They will make their own judgment based on the data. And I hope that the decision will be positive.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Doctor, do you still expect the first vaccine shipments to be sent out by the federal government December 15th?
MONCEF SLAOUI: Well, the first vaccine shipment will happen on the day after the vaccine is approved. That's how we planned it. If the vaccine is approved on the 10th or the 11th, the minute it's approved, the shipments will start. It should take them about twenty-four hours to make it to the various immunization sites that the various jurisdiction and states have told us to ship vaccines to them. And within, I would say, thirty-six hours from approval, potentially the first immunization could be taking place.
MARGARET BRENNAN: What are the side effects of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines?
MONCEF SLAOUI: So very important question, the vaccines have been studied in over seventy thousand people, so we have a good understanding on the side effect that take place within the-- the six months that we have been studying this vaccine. They are primarily side effects in the injection sites. They last one to two days. In about ten or fifteen percent of people, they can have significant, not overwhelming, but significant pain, redness at the injection site that can be treated with Advil or Tylenol and also a little bit of fever and chills. Those disappear within twenty-four to thirty-six hours. There are no serious adverse events associated with these vaccines to the best of our understanding and assessment into the trial period. And we know from the hundreds of thousands of subjects that have been studied with other vaccines over the past--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
MONCEF SLAOUI: --thirty or forty years, that most serious adverse events with vaccines happen within, let's say, a month and a half to two months after people completed their immunization. We have that observation with these vaccines, there are no such serious side effects. We are confident that in the long term, this vaccine will remain very effective and very safe. The duration of protection overall is not understood yet--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
MONCEF SLAOUI: --simply because we didn't have a long enough time to study it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But I-- I read that you yourself have an eight-year-old child. Vaccines--
MONCEF SLAOUI: Yes, I do.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --haven't been tested on-- on small children yet. Should parents expect that kids under twelve will get a shot in the arm before they go back to school in the fall?
MONCEF SLAOUI: Well, so we are working to run clinical trials in adolescents and then toddlers over the next four or five months. Hopefully, we may have the data by the fall. And if we have the data and the FDA reviews them and approves the use of the vaccine in younger children, then they could have it. At this point, the vaccines have only been studied, all of them, up to eighteen years of age, not lower for Moderna, lower for Pfizer, all the way to the age of twelve. Whether the FDA will already approve it to the age of twelve or will stop at the age of eighteen, we will know on Thursday or Friday when the FDA approves the vaccine.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about the government's plans to distribute this. We know from Operation Warp Speed, you will have forty million doses of vaccine this month. But the plan is to vaccinate twenty million people. Why not use that first forty million that you have to hit a broad swath of people and then when supply increases, go back for that second dose? Why hit twenty, not forty out of the gate?
MONCEF SLAOUI: Yes, it's a very important question and one that we have debated and studied in depth. The full immunization schedule for these vaccines is to have two doses of vaccine, either three weeks or four weeks apart. That's how we achieve ninety-five percent efficacy broadly and, in fact, a hundred percent efficacy against severe disease. We don't know how the behavior of the vaccine would be if we omit to give the second dose at three weeks or at four weeks after the first dose. We are at the onset of the industrial manufacturing of these vaccines. Every dose we make, we are prepared to ship. But, you know, as always, early in manufacturing, there may be challenges. Sometimes vaccine doses can be delayed by a week or a few days--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
MONCEF SLAOUI: --or, God forbid, by three weeks. It would be inappropriate to partially immunize large numbers of people and not complete their immunization. I think it may actually decrease the confidence in the vaccine. We want to do things by exactly how they were studied and how they have been approved.
MARGARET BRENNAN: President-elect Joe Biden has criticized Operation Warp Speed's plan, saying there's no detailed plan as to how you get the vaccine out of a container, into an injection syringe, into somebody's arm. Have you fully briefed the President-elect's team?
MONCEF SLAOUI: So we haven't had any meetings yet. I know we have a-- a meeting this coming week and we really look forward to it because actually things have been really very appropriately planned. I do think that part of the plans or maybe part of the confusion is-- part of our plans is that the jurisdiction and the state health agency in each states are going to take on the responsibility and accountability of actually delivering the vaccine. We plan to have all the ancillary material, the syringes, the needles, the swabs, everything co-localized with the vaccine. So, I think the plans are there. And I feel confident that once we will explain it, everything in detail, I hope the new transition teams will understand that things are well planned. And frankly, our commitment is to make sure these vaccines make it safely to the U.S. population, and we will do the best we can to make that happen through the transition without any interruption.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Doctor Slaoui, good luck with that. Thank you for joining us today.
MONCEF SLAOUI: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The state of Illinois recorded more coronavirus deaths than any other state in the past seven days, according to the CDC. We want to go now to the mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot, who we've periodically checked in with during this crisis. Good morning to you.
MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D-Chicago/@chicagosmayor): Good morning, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Madam Mayor, you issued a stay-at-home order that will expire in about ten days. Is that kind of directive helping you control the spread? Does it make a dent when you have an outbreak like this?
MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT: Well, I-- I think it has. We went from well over two thousand cases a day. Now we're down to about thirteen hundred. Not where we want to be by any stretch, but a significant improvement just over a couple of weeks. We're still nervously watching the numbers to see if there's going to be a post-Thanksgiving surge. But I think everything that we can do to heighten people's awareness that this second surge is just as deadly, if not more so than the first is critically important. So I do think that these advisories make a difference.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Early on in this pandemic, when you joined us, you told us half of those dying of COVID in Chicago were Black, despite making up just thirty percent of your population. Have those numbers improved?
MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT: They have improved, but there's still a concern. We're seeing people of color, both Black and Latinx, leading in the number of cases infected, but also leading in deaths. We've done a lot I think. The-- certainly, the treatments have improved because we've learned a lot more about this virus. But it's still a concern because of the underlying health disparities that bring on comorbidities that make Black and brown Chicagoans more susceptible to the worst results of this disease.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we know from Doctor Slaoui that-- that hope is on the horizon in terms of this vaccine. And the federal government plans to directly supply the vaccine to the mayors of major cities like Chicago. So I'm wondering how much discretion you will get as mayor to decide who goes first and who goes last.
MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT: Well, we really get no discretion because part of the agreement with the-- the federal government is that we agreed to the specific prioritization protocol that they put forward. But I think the good news about that for a city like Chicago is obviously our front line health care workers are going to get it. They are very diverse. Our essential workers will be next in the queue. They are extraordinarily diverse and really lean towards people of color. So there will be an equity lens as it applies to distribution of the vaccine here in Chicago.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, how do you decide who's front line, who's essential and-- and when will you be able to vaccinate them all?
MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT: Well, a lot of that, again, is defined by the CDC. We expect to get the first tranche of vaccines here in the next couple of weeks. That's already predetermined to go to the front line workers who are dealing directly with COVID patients. We expect to get around twenty-three thousand doses. Now, that's a fraction of what we will need. But we've been working with our hospital partners to identify those within their workforce who are going to be front of the queue to get the early doses of the vaccine.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But that, for example, those are doctors and nurses. Those aren't firefighters.
MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT: They are not. The-- the-- the first responders will be in the second wave. First, we've got to make sure that we get the front line health care workers vaccinated. First responders though are very much at the top of the list, as are essential workers; those folks who have no choice but to go out and work on the front lines. So we'll be taking care of them as well. But the-- the most important thing is making sure that we get a robust supply of a vaccine so we can get it distributed as effectively as possible.
MARGARET BRENNAN: When it comes to racial disparities, we know from a study done by the NAACP, only fourteen percent of Black people trust that a vaccine will be safe, eighteen percent trust it will be effective. And among Latinos, thirty-four percent trust its safety. How are you going to convince your constituents to take the vaccine?
MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT: Well, I think we-- we're going to do this in a number of ways. Number one, we have organized here locally a scientific advisory panel made up of diverse practitioners who are going to verify and-- and validate the process by which this vaccine has been produced. So, I think that's critically important. We're then also looking at a variety of trusted community leaders from the medical profession, but also local stakeholders who themselves are also going to be on the front lines of getting this vaccine. We've launched a campaign going door to door, particularly in those neighborhoods where the virus is-- really continues to be a challenge, where there's high percent positivity case rates. So, that's been ongoing and we're bringing them news of the vaccine and why it's so important. But bottom line is, we've got to get local trusted leaders who are going to validate why it's important to take the vac-- vaccine. I can talk all I want, but people have to trust their neighbors and stakeholders in the community. And that's why we've activated this group of folks to be really the spokespeople about the vaccine.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You know, one of the-- the sticking points in Congress right now over providing relief to the American people financially is state and local money.
MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You have taken a loan, four hundred and fifty million dollars in the short term. You're even borrowing against future revenue from the sale of recreational marijuana in order to try to avoid layoffs. What are you going to do if Congress doesn't provide funds to you?
MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT: Well, we-- we passed a budget on the assumption that we were not going to get any additional federal moneys. Now that would be a tragedy not just for Chicago, but also for the people who really depend upon the kind of services that the government provides: our seniors, our young people, the most vulnerable population, homeless and-- and so forth. So, I hope that the partisan divide that has prevented a package from getting to the President's desk will actually be broken through.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT: Because if you look at the devastation of our economy, it's not just blue states. It's red, it's purple. Everyone has been affected by COVID-19 economic impacts. And we just need to make sure as mayors and governors, we continue to beat that drum so Congress does its work and gets a package to the President's desk for signature.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Mayor Lightfoot, thank you for joining us this morning.
MAYOR LIGHTFOOT: Thank you very much.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And FACE THE NATION will be back in a minute. We'll check in with our Liz Palmer to see what's going on in the rest of the world. Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The U.K. plans to begin providing Pfizer vaccine shots this week. They will be the first country to do so. Senior foreign correspondent Liz Palmer reports from London.
ELIZABETH PALMER (CBS News Senior Foreign Correspondent/@CBSLizpalmer): Good morning. With the rollout of the vaccine in Europe now tantalizingly close, the challenge is, to stop people from throwing caution to the winds. And to that end, a lot of countries are doubling down on the rules.
ELIZABETH PALMER: Once Italy lifted its severest restrictions, Italians returned to church, masked and socially distanced, but they're not going far this Christmas. Italy has forbidden all regional travel.
In London, COVID rules were relaxed this week so businesses could reopen. Shopping is allowed, but visits with friends indoors is not. And across the continent, the elderly are being shielded from visitors, though a kiss through plastic at this home in France is clearly better than no kiss at all. And while we're on the subject, pity the poor mistletoe-growers. There was a bumper crop in the U.K. this year, but now that kissing is a public health hazard, no one is buying. COVID hit a holiday ritual in Bethlehem, too, with no crowd allowed in Manger Square this year. The traditional tree was lit, but for the TV cameras only. Many developing countries, like Brazil, are struggling with surging COVID infections, but there is no quick vaccine relief in sight for them. And people have given up following the rules with lethal consequences. By contrast, amid political fanfare, Russia started offering its Sputnik vaccine this weekend, even though final testing on it isn't complete. You can sign up online, and it is free, but early reports suggest not everyone's convinced.
ELIZABETH PALMER: Here in Britain, the health service is going to start vaccinating people sometime in the next couple of days. And the hot rumor is that one of the very first public figures to get the jobs is going to be ninety-four-year-old Queen Elizabeth. Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Liz Palmer, thank you.
And we'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: As COVID surges, the economy is stalling. Hiring dropped off in recent weeks just as twelve million Americans are set to lose federal unemployment benefits this month unless Congress takes swift action. Democrats and Republicans still do not agree on how much financial support to provide the American people, but there does appear now to be new interest on both sides to try to do something. Four million Americans face eviction in the next two months, even more, about seventeen million say they're behind on their rent or mortgage payment.
Just a reminder that this pandemic is more than just a health crisis. If you would like to help those struggling, go to facethenation.com for a list of resources. We'll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back with Nebraska Medicine's CEO Doctor James Linder, former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb. Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. Nebraska Medicine is known as a leader in infectious diseases. The hospital cared for Ebola patients in 2014 and treated some of the first U.S. COVID-19 patients back in February. CEO, Doctor James Linder, joins us from Omaha this morning. Good morning to you, Doctor.
JAMES LINDER, M.D. (Nebraska Medicine CEO): Good morning, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We heard a very sobering warning from the CDC director this week when he said this country is about to face the most difficult period in the public health history of our nation. And he said that's because of the stress that's going to be put on our health care system. What does that mean for front line workers at your hospitals?
JAMES LINDER: Well, I think the CDC director is accurate in that statement. We've been dealing with a public health crisis for ten months now and our health care workers have been at the tip of the spear in battling the pandemic, in dealing with short supplies, and dealing with a patchwork of policies that could control the virus. I think if you look at the hospitals in America, many of them are at the breaking point. Some may have broken. We had some challenges in the last couple of weeks in Nebraska, but by working together, we were able to navigate that and make sure that care was available to everyone.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You know, a video from one of your nurses went viral last month, and in it she described the-- the staffing shortages and she described her own personal frustration that she can't just rush in and help a COVID patient. It takes time to have to put on the PPE required to even enter the room. What is it like? Can you describe what it is like to be a COVID patient right now?
JAMES LINDER: Everyone should want to avoid being a COVID patient, not only for the experience if they are in the hospital, but for the potential long-term consequences of this virus. The staff has done a remarkable job in working together and using their personal protective equipment to minimize any risk of personal exposure. But it is a very challenging time. And, you know, when we talk about hospitals and hospital beds, that's a very concrete number. But those hospitals and beds are not of any value unless you have the nurses, the physicians, the pharmacists, the technologists, the facilities people to deliver the care that makes people well. And those people really are stretched to the limit. I'm rec-- fully aware of the stress on the entire country and the entire world, but there's always a sense of security and peace in knowing that health care is available. But we are challenging that right now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We're challenging that just because of the sheer numbers, overwhelming the system is what you're talking about. Can you say what that means, practically speaking? Are-- are we talking about doctors having to make decisions on who to treat and-- and who not to help?
JAMES LINDER: I think that first we should realize that prior to the pandemic, many hospitals were running near capacity and then with the addition of twenty percent more patients requiring care, that makes it very challenging to take care of the cancer patients, the heart disease, the strokes, the trauma that have not gone away. So health care providers are faced with the challenge of dealing with eighty percent of the patients that have those other conditions and fifteen, twenty, twenty-five or a percent more, depending on geography, of patients who have COVID. So there are areas of the country that are what are in called crisis standards of care, where the actual standard of care has changed--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
JAMES LINDER: --because there aren't adequate staff, supplies or other resources. We have plans for that in Nebraska, but we are not at that point right now. I want to make that very clear--
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you-- you--
JAMES LINDER: --but it's a very challenging time for all of health care.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And you have suspended elective surgeries. Would you advise other hospitals to do that now?
JAMES LINDER: What we've done is postponed those procedures that could safely be postponed, say, for four to twelve weeks. The term elective surgery is too broad a blanket, because if you have a tumor, you can maybe postpone the removal of that for a short period of time. But mentally, that patient wants the operation to remove that tumor.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
JAMES LINDER: So, the COVID pandemic is affecting all aspects of health care.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Nebraska's governor said that he expects to get about a hundred thousand doses of the vaccine during the month of December. Do you know when you will receive it at your hospitals? And what is your plan to distribute it to your employees? How do you decide who qualifies?
JAMES LINDER: Well, we have begun the process of assuring which health care workers want to take the vaccine, and our policy would be to deal with the front-line workers in our hospital. And a lot of that is dependent on the number of doses we receive for distribution either next week or the week after.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You don't know that number yet?
JAMES LINDER: We don't know the exact number yet. No, we do not.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But how do you decide and-- and when you say you're asking if people are willing to take it, are a large number of your employees unwilling to take the vaccine?
JAMES LINDER: No. Our surveys indicate well over ninety percent of individuals are-- are going to roll up their sleeves on day one and be able to take it. We have to stratify the distribution of the vaccine because if there are any side effects, we don't want too many people that say would be home for a day or two.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So when you say you're-- you're prioritizing front line, what does that mean? Because health care means everyone from the janitors cleaning up the room to the doctors intubating patients. Who goes first, and who goes last?
JAMES LINDER: That's a wonderful question, Margaret, and we will be first dealing with the people who are in the room, so your nurses, your doctors, your patient care techs, your respiratory technicians, the environmental service, people that have to turn rooms over. Those are the people that should first get the vaccine. And we anticipate, though, that perhaps by the end of December, if the state does receive a hundred thousand doses, almost every health care provider in Nebraska and most of the individuals who are in long-term care environments can be vaccinated, but the supply chain of the virus-- of the vaccine is still not solid. So, we-- we just are preparing for delivering it to everyone. But we'll see what we get.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We wish you good luck, Doctor. Thank you for your time this morning.
And we'll be right back with former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb. Don't go away.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And we're back with former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb, who also sits on the board of directors at Pfizer, one of the vaccine makers awaiting approval from the FDA here in the US. He joins us from Westport, Connecticut, this morning. So, Doctor Gottlieb, not only are infections spiking, so are deaths. The CDC director put the number at four hundred and fifty thousand people dead by February. That is double where we are right now. Do you agree with that forecast?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB, MD (Former FDA Commissioner/@ScottGottliebMD): Well, look, I think we have a worsening situation around the country. Things are going to continue to get worse for the next four to six weeks. We're not likely to see a peak in the number of infections until about the end of December, maybe into January. And we're going to see a peak in a number of deaths and hospitalizations probably at some point in the middle of January. So as bad as things are right now, they're going to get a lot worse. I think, by the end of the year we will be at probably about three hundred thousand deaths. And by the end of January, we could be pushing four hundred thousand deaths. We're going to see consistently, probably, two thousand deaths a day. And as we get into January towards the peak, we're going to see over three hundred thou-- three thousand deaths a day, unfortunately, and we'll maybe get close to four thousand deaths a day. So, this is going to get a lot worse before it starts to resolve. Right now, the statistic is that about 1.7 percent of diagnosed cases will succumb to the infection within twenty-two days. That has held pretty steady. So, there's a grim future right now ahead of us for the next six weeks. People really need to protect themselves.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Un-- understood. And we obviously urge everyone to protect themselves. You know, last week, we saw a-- the largest surge in deaths in long-term care facilities. This is the largest surge since June. This is the elderly. If someone watching at home has a loved one in one of those facilities right now, what do you recommend that they do?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, look, I think that you need to protect the elderly in these facilities by probably not visiting right now, not having people go into those facilities and the facilities themselves really need to be vigilant about their staff, testing their staff and making sure the staff don't walk the infection into those facilities because in many cases that's how it's getting into these-- these institutions. People are bringing it in either visitors or-- or staff. Right now, visitors aren't allowed in most of these facilities. Hopefully, we'll be able to vaccinate these individuals and the staff very soon. The vaccines are going to be prioritized to these staffs and-- and hopefully the vaccines will be available soon and moved into these facilities. And one dose can be partially protective, especially in younger individuals. So, the vaccines could start to have an impact right away.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, it's interesting you say that because I asked Doctor Slaoui about that idea of whether to vaccinate forty million people out of the gate since they have forty million doses versus the more conservative plan of going with twenty so that they have two doses set to go, keeping one in reserve. Doctor Slaoui said it was, you know, to be careful in case of manufacturing issues. Do you think that was the right call?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Look, I would be trying to push out as much vaccine as possible, recognizing that the supply ramps very quickly in 2021, and you have to take a little bit of a risk that the supply is going to be there in 2021 to give everyone who gets vaccinated in 2020 the second dose. This is a crisis. We need to get as many vaccines in arms as possible in my view. And that means pushing out all the available supply or most of it. You might want to hold a little bit in reserve, but not much. The supply does ramp. The first dose is partially protective, probably, the data does suggest that. So, I think we want to spread as much vaccine as possible. If we have-- if we can't get the people who get their first dose, their second dose in 2021, we're going to have bigger problems than just the fact that the-- those people didn't get the second dose of vaccination. So, we need to take a little bit of risk here.
MARGARET BRENNAN: To your point, scientists at the University of Washington estimate vaccines will save nine thousand U.S. lives before April, but they say fourteen thousand more could be saved if there was a rapid scallop-- scale up of vaccines among high-risk individuals. What does a more aggressive push look like?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, we are where we are with the supply, so the supply will ramp as we get into 2021, but there's no way we're going to be able to accelerate that between now and, say, March. I think if you want to maximize preservation of life, you would vaccinate older Americans. You would prioritize vaccinating older Americans and Americans with comorbid conditions that if they do get COVID, they're more likely to have a bad outcome, more likely to die from COVID. Those decisions are going to be made very soon about who that second tranche of people to be vaccinated is. I'm talking to a number of governors and I think governors are going to prioritize their older populations. And in some targeted populations in their states where certain communities have been hit especially hard by COVID, they'll go in and make some targeted decisions.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You sit on the board of Pfizer. As we said, Pfizer said they're not going to hit their 2020 manufacturing target. Does that mean an actual shortage of vaccine?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: No, what happened was the manufacturing got delayed. There were some supply chain issues, but the vaccine that they intended to produce in 2020 now gets pushed into 2021. This is a supply chain that ramps very quickly as you-- as time progresses. So every time you-- a week gets pushed from 2020 into 2021, you-- you lose a lot of supply in 2020 and that supply gets pushed into the next year. So, the supply stays the same. It's just not going to be available this year. But those doses, the doses that have been promised right now have been made. So, Pfizer has said that they'll have fifty million doses available globally in 2020. Those doses, by and large, have been made. And in the U.K., right after the authorization, trucks rolled into the United Kingdom through the Chunnel and actually delivered those doses. They're now sitting in the United Kingdom ready to go, and they're going to start vaccinating probably on Tuesday. And U.K. authorities have said they may be able to vaccinate eight thou-- eight hundred thousand people in the first week.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But the idea that a U.S. based company will start vacc-- vaccinating in another country before the United States caused some consternation this week and some finger pointing at your old agency, that they were slow rolling approval. Would you run this process differently?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Well, look, FDA made some deliberate decisions, I think, for sound reasons that delayed this by not months, but probably weeks. They-- they committed to have an open advisory committee. That was to inspire public confidence and provide transparency around the approval process and the clinical data. That probably added a week or two to this process. They also required that manufacturers have at least two months of safety data on fifty percent of the patients before they even file their applications. So, that delayed the ability to file an application till the end of November. So, some of those applications perhaps could have been filed in early November based on the interim analysis, the first tranche of data showing that these vaccines were more than ninety percent effective. But the manufacturers had to wait a couple of weeks to file that because of that requirement. There's sound reasons why the FDA did that. They wanted to provide a greater degree of public assurance and also get a better look at the data. But it did delay this by a couple of weeks at least. So we just have to accept that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So in other words, yes, you would have done a few things differently, but we will be standing by for this. Doctor Gottlieb, thank you as always, for your analysis.
We'll be right back.
GABRIEL STERLING (Georgia Secretary of State Voting System Implementation Manager; Tuesday): Mister President, it looks like you likely lost the state of Georgia. We're investigating. There's always a possibility. I get it, and you have the rights to go through the courts. What you don't have the ability to do, and you need to step up and say this, is stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence. Someone's going to get hurt. Someone's going to get shot. Someone's going to get killed.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That was Gabriel Sterling, a Republican election official in the state of Georgia warning President Trump about the potential impact of his continued unsubstantiated claims of a vast conspiracy. Yet, last night, the President repeated many of those same unfounded claims at a rally in the state of Georgia.
For more on the security of the 2020 election, we want to go now to the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Chris Krebs. Good to have you here. You watched that rally--
CHRIS KREBS (Former Director, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency): Good morning, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Good morning. You watched that rally. I know that because you tweeted last night. And you said it was an "active, coordinated disinformation campaign to undermine confidence in our elections." Why do you think the commander-in-chief is doing that?
CHRIS KREBS: Look, I-- I don't know if it's intentional or if it's willful blindness, but the-- the result of the 2020 election is clear. The key states certainly have certified over the last several days and will continue to certify in the run up to the seating of the Electoral College on December 14th. But the-- this race is over. We've got to get ready for January 20th and the next administration.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But just twenty-seven congressional Republicans have acknowledged Joe Biden's victory as President-elect. That's twenty-seven out of two hundred and forty-nine.
CHRIS KREBS: Yeah.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why are the majority of Republicans remaining silent on what you're describing here as a security risk?
CHRIS KREBS: I-- I-- again, I can't speak to what their motivations are. To those that have spoken up, it's the right thing to do. And I think the rest of them have to acknowledge that the system in place to conduct the election was legitimate, and par-- particularly in the House, they've accepted their outcomes and their races. I don't see any difference here between the-- the presidential race. It is well past the time where all leaders of the Republican Party need to accept the outcome of this race, and move on and-- and accept that-- that Joe Biden is the President-elect.
MARGARET BRENNAN: When you say a disinformation campaign, I mean, you're looking at this from a national security point of view, where you were trying to stop foreign governments from undermining confidence in our elections. What do you think the consequence of this coming from the President in the United States is on our democracy?
CHRIS KREBS: I-- I do think it's corrosive to confidence in the election, in-- in democracy. You know, the-- the point of elections, it's-- it's often been said by election officials, is that you're-- you're trying to convince the loser that they lost. But to do that, you have to have willing participants that are-- that are honest brokers. And we're just not seeing this right now. You know, every court case, or filing has been-- been rejected by-- by the courts. And so any fraud claims, any security claims, any-- any sorts of things along those lines, we-- we're just not seeing supportive-- supporting evidence. And again, it is time to move on. You should have confidence, particularly Georgia voters should have confidence in the election and they need to get out for the January 5th Senate runoff.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You have described yourself as a-- as a lifelong Republican. You served President Bush. You served under President Trump. Why do you think the party is scared to do all the things you're laying out?
CHRIS KREBS: Again, I-- I don't know what is behind this, what their motivations are, but-- but again, it is time for leaders in the national security community and in the-- in the Republican Party--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.
CHRIS KREBS: --to stand up, to accept the results and move forward. We-- we cannot allow this to continue, certainly not past January 20th, certainly not for the next four years. Any sort of lost cause move-- movement would be just horribly destructive to-- to-- to democracy.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So in your former agency, before President Trump fired you, you had a variety of responsibilities on the cyber front, and you've talked about disinformation online around the vaccine, for example. We know the State Department has quietly called out Russia for spreading disinformation about the vaccine. Why isn't Homeland Security right now launching a campaign to educate the American public about a vaccine being safe?
CHRIS KREBS: So, early on in COVID, in fact, it was January-- March 13th was the day I think the world changed for most folks, we launched an effort to both help the vaccine developers as well as the public health care institutions, hospitals, the-- the protective equipment manufacturers and, yes, the therapeutics and-- and vaccine developers. We launched a campaign, a cybersecurity focused campaign, to secure their-- their-- their-- their businesses and their enterprise. But at the same time, we saw some disinformation emerging related to the coronavirus, and including just farcical claims like 5G telecommunications towers-- telephone towers spread the coronavirus. We actually saw vandalism in the United Kingdom. So, we wanted to get that here. FEMA did launch a-- a similar rumor control effort on-- on the coronavirus. We are going to have to do much, much more going forward to counter the vaccine claims that we're going to hear, the anti-vaxxer type claims. Those have been previously and will be in the future, supported and amplified by foreign powers that don't share our same interests. So, we-- we need to get mechanisms like that up and running fast.
MARGARET BRENNAN: How much of that is foreign, how much of that is domestic?
CHRIS KREBS: It-- it's hard to say. There's certainly both, but the more that we get professionals like Doctor Gottlieb, who I worked with closely back in government, more we get professionals like that out there describing the facts about the vaccine, that's going to be one of those critical aspects going forward.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Homeland Security disclosed this past Thursday that cyberattacks are underway at companies and government organizations involved in distributing the vaccine. IBM went public saying they were very sophisticated, which indicates that a country, another government was possibly behind it. Who has the ability and the intent to do something like that?
CHRIS KREBS: So the traditional powers, the-- the big four of Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, we have-- we have seen to some extent all four of those-- those countries doing some kind of espionage or spying, trying to get intellectual property related to the-- the-- the vaccine and, in fact, just how we're doing as a country policy wise and in terms of health impact. What we have been thinking through, what we had been thinking through at CISA was-- was not just the vaccine developers, but their entire supply chain and really trying to look through those for those critical weak spots. We called it the-- the ball bearing strategy, looking for those-- those key elements that could-- could cause the entire process to-- to collapse. And-- and that's going to be critical going forward. So, it's not just about Moderna and some of the others that are developing the vaccine. It's their supply chains. It's the distribution channels, public health institutions. Those are the folks that we have to continue to spread cybersecurity support to from the national security community and from the private sector.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Important message over the coming weeks. Thank you, Chris Krebs, for joining us today.
And we will be back in a moment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for us today. Thank you for watching. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I'm Margaret Brennan.
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