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tv   Face the Nation  CBS  December 6, 2021 2:30am-3:00am PST

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threat: the omicron variant has now been identified in at least 16 states in the u.s., and more than three dozen countries. as scientists around the world race to unlock its secrets, president biden says the new strain is cause for concern but not panic. >> biden: we're going to fight this variant with science and speed, not chaos and confusion. >> brennan: mr. biden% says he is doing everything that can be done, doubling down on his push for vaccines and boosters, plus providing more access to testing, both for the virus and levels of antibodies. >> in order to beat covid, we have to shut it down worldwide. >> brennan: will the president's p protocols for international travel help? we'll get the latest from surgeon general vivek
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murthy. they reported a new case of omicron on saturday. and we'll check in with former f.d.a. commissioner dr. scott gottlieb. and we'll also hear from the w.h.o.'s covid lead, dr. maria van kerkhove about what is known about omicron. francis desouza, the c.e.o. of illumina, working to stop the spread in realtime, will also be here. it is all just ahead on "face the nation." ♪♪ ♪♪ >> brennan: good morning. and welcome to "face the nation." we find ourselves today with many more questions than answers when it comes to omicron, the new highly contagious coronavirus africa ka. what we do know is we're far from being done with the delta variant. mark mark strassmann has more
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from atlanta. >> reporter: in covid america, omicron, the greek letter that means, here we go again. >> oh, god! >> reporter: a new variant, a new call to arms to put shots in them. >> we're actively taking steps to stay ahead of omicron. >> reporter: we better. omicron is a shadowy threat, still unclear whether his highly mutated variant is the most contagious yet, and consider a different worry: omicron hysteria. it is a potential distraction for new york -- >> we have a much bigger current challenge with the delta variant. >> reporter: to washington state. >> it would be really sad if people lose their lives today because they've been killed by the delta variant while they're worrying about omicron. >> reporter: delta is dominating the u.s. now. 99.9% of this country's current case load. in 47 states, cases trend up.
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roughly 76% of u.s. counties considered high transmission areas. hotspots: iowa, wednesday saw a 2021 record for covid patients hospitalized. three in four of them unvaccinated. massachusetts averaging more than 3,000 new cases a day. for the first time since january. and michigan, covid hospitalizations almost doubled in one week. a possible storm of community spread because of thanksgiving. all those travelers and family get togethers with covid uninvited but present. it will be a week, maybe two, before data starts quantifying the infection impact. also ahead, our second covid christmas. what do scientists want? >> the answer is vaccines, vaccines, and vaccines. >> reporter: roughly 70% of americans have had at least one shot. only about 24%, aged 18 and up, have had boosters. waning protection is a genuine worry. even fully vaccinated
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people can become spreaders after four months. omicron has created one surge already in vaccinations. 2.2 million shots given last thursday, including more than one million boosters. that's the highest single-day total since may. >> if you were fully vaccinated before june, it is time for you to get your booster. >> reporter: there is another travel change. international arrivals have to pass a pre-covid test, the window used to be three days, and now it is one, regardless of nationality or vaccination status. margaret? >> mark strassmann, thank you. concern over covid is escalating around the world, too, with a lot of attention focused on the ground zero of omicron, south africa. elizabeth palmer has more from her new post in seoul, south korea. >> reporter: the fact is the vast majority of covid
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disease in the world is still caused by the delta variant. it is hammering germany in a fourth wave that had alarmed medical staff so much they lit up the i.c.u. facility in red as a warning. and the air force has been drafted in to transfer patients to hospitals that can still cope. south koreans, all strictly masked, are lining up in droves to be tested as the country reels under the biggest spike since the pandemic began. and delta has been especially lethal in russia, where it has killed more than 75,000 mostly unvaccinated people this fall. so the fact that omicron is on the way now is deeply worrying. early signs from south africa suggest it is very infection. infectious. the government is now doubling down, pushing everyone, especially the reluctant, to get a shot.
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as for reinfection, another south african study, yet to be peer reviewed, suggests omicron does override immunity in people who already have had covid, so they catch it again. restrictions on travel may have slowed omicron's spread but haven't stopped it. in norway at this restaurant, there was a super spreader event last week. oslo had been loosening restrictions, and then a company with south african operations thr threw a party. 13 guests were infected with omicron, with more likely to come. scientists around the world are racing to find out meanwhile, the emergence of omicron has highlighighlightedthe need for l response to deal with this
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pandemic. as they have been saying from the beginning, nobody is safe until we're all safe. >> brennan: elizabeth palmer, thank you. we want to go to dr. scott gottlieb, who sits on the boards of pfizer and illumina. good morning, doctor. >> doctor: good morning. >> brennan: we have heard from the administration there are a couple of dozen omicron cases here in the united states. dr. fauci said this morning too early, still it doesook there is a great degree of severity to it. is it too early to say that? >> doctor: it is too early to say that. right now the infection -- the best data is coming out of south africa because they simply have more cases. all of the evidence who allow the people presenting with infection are people who were previously infected with delta, probably more than 90% of people in south africa were infected with delta, so we don't know whether or not this new strain is inherently less
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virulent, sor whether it or whes presenting that way because it is presenting in people who have some immunity, so they're getting infected but they're getting as sick. there was one study out of a tashwani hospital, a hard-hit part of south africa, they looked at about 166 patients who have been admitted to the hospital, and they found 38 infected with covid. most were incidental pick-ups, they were presenting for a surgical reason and they were found to be positive. of the nine people who had pneumonia in the hospital, all were unvaccinated. and whether it will also infect people who have been vaccinated -- there is some reason to believe that vaccines could be more protective than just
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immunity from delta. that's going to be the critical decision we'll have to point out because we have some important policies we need to make depending on the answer. >> brennan: the latest infection was in the state of connecticut, where you live, and it looks like the individual has a connection to the new york city convention that happened around mid-november. is that now a super-spreader event? for gatherings of that is size in new york, you have to have some screenings, they require vaccinations. is this presenting a greater degree of worry than you were saying last week? >> doctor: it is a greater degree of worry considering that information. we don't know the quality of the masks people were wearing -- we have to assume most were cloth masks which won't provide a high degree of protection. and we hear the anecdotes of the super-spreader events like that, where you have a lot of cases
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coming out of it, but we don't hear about all of the situations where someone came into contact, and there was no super spreader. that said, it is concerning when you see a single introduction into a con grgregate setting, that suggests something that is completely airborne and looks more like measles than the flu. >> brennan: in south africa, you were seeing a spike in hospitalizations for those under the age of five. for parents, like me, how concerned do we need to be? >> doctor: yeah, that is concerning. overall, about 11% of hospitalizations have been under the age of two. and if you look a little above that, i think below the age of nine, almost 20% of hospitalizations in some of the hospital. it is confounded by the fact they're having a very big flu epidemic also in south africa right now. and when a toddler presents to the hospital
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with a respiratory illness, what i'm told by physicians on the ground, they make a presumptive diagnosis of covid, even if the kid doesn't test positive for covid, out an abundance of caution. so there may be an overreporting of covid when it comes to very young children. we have to surmise the kids are a preserved population, they haven't had the delta as the adults, and they also haven't been vaccinated in any appreciable numbers.renn: te president said no more lockdowns, he said he wants schools to try to stay open. does the administration need to look at getting the vaccine manufacturers to reboot the existing vaccine to chase these new mutations and the variant? >> doctor: look, the companies are doing that. pfizer is doing that, and they're going to start some manufacturing of that to be ready. this will be a really critical decision. what we've seen in the past, for example, when we
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engineered a vaccine to target 1351, that vaccine worked well, or appeared to worknwell against 1351, but didn't appear to provide as good coverage for all of the other variants. it is reason to believe that as you develop vaccines very specific, they may not work as well for the full complement of different variants. so you want to try to stick with the wuhan strain as long as possible. i think as the virus mutates, it starts to hide some of the viral targets on its surface, so you get a vaccine that doesn't provide as full immunity. you get a more narrow vaccine. >> brennan: we'll hear from the world health organization later in the program, but they have suggested changing the vaccine could add to the issue of inequity around the world that we're seeing. they have said it is all about available supply. that is the key problem they see on the african continent. last sunday you told us of
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the eight countries under the u.s. travel ban, five have turned down shipments from pfizer. and johnson & johnson said their shipments were also turned down because at least in south africa their coffers were full. exactly what is the problem here? why is the donation pile that the white house says they are making not getting where it needs to go? >> doctor: the white house has said the same thing, that the donations from the white house have been turned down as well. there was a point in time when there was an adequate supply and the supply wasn't flowing into these countries. we're at a point where there is a lot of supply, pfizer has pledged two million doses. we have to do the hard work of getting the frainfrastructure on the ground. and the cold-chain storage is needed. it is largely a political body that is not on the ground. we need to do some kind of heavy lifting capability
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to get resources into some of these countries to distribute those vaccines. going into next year, we probably will be oversupplied with the vaccine. that may change now that we have this new variant that increase the amount 6 amountof boosters. it will be question of getting shots in arms on the ground. >> brennan: president biden said vaccines have been turned down, but he talked about logistics. i want to talk about some chelsea clinton tweeted: we need tech transfers and advancements to allow the white house provide itself." why does the white house provide the drip, drip -- >> doctor: i can't speak for the white house. we need to get capacities into these countries so this isn't a recurrent
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problem. if covid is going to be a virus that continues to mutate, countries need to have the capacity to deal with it on their own with global assistance. pfizer has worked to get a manufacturing facility into south africa, and they partnered with a local country, so you are seeing efforts like that take root. and they donated on the patent, and the u.n. is going to turn to indian manufacturers for low and middle-income countries. and merck has done the same thing. and j & j has gotten manufacturing into south africa. we need more of that, no question about that. but it will come with collaborations between some of these countries and the companies. i think there are ways to partner these efforts and get the support of the western manufacturers to build those resources in local markets. >> brennan: we'll watch for that and get some answers from the world health organization shortly. thank you, dr. scott
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gottlieb. "face the nation" will be back in a minute with the governor of connecticut. ♪ now listen to the beat ♪ ♪ kinda pat your feet ♪ ♪ it's all right ♪ ♪ have a good time 'cause it's all right ♪ ♪ oh, it's all right ♪
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>> brennan: connecticut is now one of 16 states in the u.s. with a confirmed case of omicron. plus they are seeing a spike in delta cases. we want to bring in now the governor of that state, ned lament, w ned lamonto joins us from stanford. >> good morning, margaret. >> brennan: i want to ask about this news you relieved overnight, that omicron is now in your state. is there any indication exactly how widespread it is? in the release, it indicated that the individual was inoculated. didhe or she receive a booster shot? >> governor: i'm not sure about the booster shot. i do know that the patient was immunized and over the age of 60. i tink sometimes there are too much emphasis upon the infection. the good news is on the vaccination, in this case the patient is at home,
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resting peacefully, and no need to go to the hospital. that is one of the key things that the vaccines we know are affective at. >> brennan: thus far, the indication is a mild type of infection. is that right? >> governor: exactly. yep. >> brennan: you are 7 situated between into major cities, boston and new york, and we know omicron is in both states. how oncerned are you that this is a wider infection in your state? >> governor: i'm concerned. omicron is coming up from new york on the i-95 corridor, and it is coming from massachusetts and no state is an island. the good news is we have 95% of our folks over the age of 12 have had some vaccine. so i know we are prepared. and i'd like to think we're not going to have the surge in hospitals you see in some less vaccinated states. >> brennan: well, you are having some surge, as you mentioned there, from delta right now.
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given you already have that, and it is holiday season time and people gather, are you going to issue new restrictions? should people call off holiday parties? are you going to mandate mask-wearing? >> governor: i think right now the people of connecticut have been through this for a year and a half. they're doing the right thing. they're they're overwhelmingly getting vaccinated. people of a certain age, stay out of contagious situations. we just don't know enough about this variant. be careful. >> brennan: when it comes to the most vulnerable, those living in assisted living facilities, why don't you mandate a booster shot? >> governor: that's a good question. look, we got hit hard in nursing homes, as did everybody else. the good news is we brought the boosters back to all of the nursing homes.
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overwhelming the residents have gotten their booster. but we don't have as many of the nurses getting their booster. you say why don't you mandate that? the balancing act is we're having a hard time getting nurses in the nursing homes. some wings are closing down and they're turning down some patients. so i've got to get the right balance. but overwhelming well over 90% of those nurses at least got their first two shots. >> brennan: why are they leaving? is it exhaustion or something to do with the vaccine? >> governor: i think we're just having a hard time hiring in general. a lot of folks are hesitant. i think there is some hesitancy in terms of hospitals, and nurses at the nursing homes as well. look, we're at 95% capacity, but it is a balancing act. you want to make sure you keep people working, but you want them working safely. >> brennan: you have given schools in your state the option of using a screen and stay system, like the test and stay
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system we heard president biden say he would like the c.d.c. to look at for parents who would be able to test their child and send them into the classroom, not automatically quarantine them if they have a direct exposure to someone else with covid. what's your advice to nervous parents when they hear this kind of strategy being adopted? why do you think it has worked in connecticut? >> governor: we opened our schools almost universally a year ago september. our schools are some of the safest places to be. now a year and a half later, 90% of all of our teachers are vaccinated. we're getting five to 11 vaccinated. what i did want to have happen, margaret -- i didn't want it should be uh-oh, there is somebody exposed so let's quarantine the whole grade. that's why we came up with, if you're not showing symptoms, come back into the classroom.
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>> brennan: we'll wait for the c.d.c. to issue guidelines -- they haven't yet -- on how to implement that for other states. you were critical of the c.d.c. when it came to booster shots. you said at one point the c.d.c. speaks latin. it is hard to understand exactly what they're trying totell you what to do. are you seeing much improvement from them? are you getting enough guidance from the white house itself? are they briefing you? >> governor: i get plenty of briefings from the white house. i would say to the c.d.c., you've got to be consistent and be clear. early on when it came to the boosters, early on when it came to the vaccines, there were five pages of small print about who is an essential worker, and what is an appropriate co-morbidity, if you smoked in high school, and that included two-thirds of the people i knew. so you have to be clear and simple if you want people to get theirkyj: boosters. early on we said 18 and over. and if it was more than
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six months ago that you got the shot, get your booster. people are coming in and it is simple for them to understand. >> brennan: have you seen an uptake in shots since the news of the omicron first broke? >> governor: absolutely. we've tried a lot of incentives to get people vaccinated. you had drinks on us. other people did lotteries. nothing against people vaccinated like the fear of other variant coming. it is a good thing in the sense we have more and more of our people getting a booster. the vast majority of people over 65 have had their two shots and had their booster as well. that's a big plus. >> brennan: governor, thank you very much for your time. we'll be back with a lot more "face the nation," so stay with us. in boston, where biotech innovates daily and our doctors teach at harvard medical school,
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>> brennan: we'll be right back with u.s. surgeon general dr. viv vivek murthy, and some thoughts from john dickerson on politics and decorum.
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>> brennan: welcome back to "face the nation." we go now to the u.s. surgeon general, dr. vivek
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murthy. good morning. >> good morning. >> brennan: thank you for joining us. we wake up and at least 16 states have this new variant omicron detected. many are seemingly to be around the vaccinated, not clear if they all were boosted. do we know how widespread this infection is in the u.s. >> we're still learning a lot about the omicron variant. we detected a couple dozen cases here in the united states and a number of countries around the world now have omicron. but this is the p pattern we see with these variants. they are discovered in one place and they quickly spread around the world. the important thing is as we work hard to again answers about its transmissibility and its severity and its response to the vaccines and therapeutics, it is critical to know we have tools to protect ourselves genes this variants and the delta variant, which is still the dom


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