tv Face the Nation CBS December 20, 2021 2:30am-3:00am PST
captioning sponsored by cbs >> brennan: i'm margaret brennan in washington. and this week on "face the nation," there is frustration and fear as we head into the holiday season amid what top u.s. health officials are calling an incoming title wave of covid cases. it has been more than two full years since the mysterious and deadly virus started circulating in parts of china. now here in the u.s., covid cases are setting new records. the delta variant still accounts for most new infections, but the ultra contagious omicron is now in at least 43 states. >> biden: omicron is here. it will spread more rapidly at the beginning of the
year. >> brennan: there are long lines for testing, overwhelmed hospital and medical personnel, and revised plans for businesses and some schools to go back to virtual. still, officials are adamant that it may feel like deja vu, but it is not. we have tools to protect people, so use them. >> biden: if you're vaccinated and you have your booster shot, you're protected from severe illness and death, period. >> brennan: we'll talk with dr. francis collins for the latest on our covid winter wave. and we'll check in with former f.d.a. commissioner dr. scott gottlieb. and the other surge in the u.s.: 100,000 americans are dead from opioids this year. we'll ask anne milgram about what her agency is doing to stem the tide. finally, we'll have a dramatic look at the taliban takeover of afghanistan,
from hamdullah mohib, who fled that country as kabul fell. there are reports you had to fly at low altitude because you were trying to avoid the americans knowing you were leaving. >> absolutely. >> brennan: why? >> there was no trust. >> brennan: it is all just ahead on "face the nation." ♪♪ ♪♪ >> brennan: good morning, and welcome to "face thetú with less than a week to go until christmas, it is tough to be effusive with holiday cheer as a covid tidalwave builds and is likely to worsen due to the holiday gatherings. officials around the world are struggling to learn more about the omicron variant. what they know is your best protection is to get vaccinated and boosted. mark stras mark strassmann begins our
coverage. >> reporter: omicron alarm bells ring out across the nation, in california -- >> what i see is a deluge of omicron. >> the medical personnel have just been slammed. all of this constitutes this perfect storm. >> reporter: and especially new york? >> i believe it is going to get even stronger and more virulent and we're in for a rough ride this winter season. >> reporter: new yorkers stampede for testing. covid cases nearly doubled in one week. twice this week, the state set the highest single-day count of now cases since the early months. >> i feel like everyone has covid. i'm just trying to be safe. >> reporter: two years into the virus, america is seeing a run on testing once again. we're left to make our own covid calculus, evaluating personal risk and exposure moment to mom. america is bruising from a one-two punch, delta and omicron, the newest variant
about to become dominant. its severity unclear; it's c contagiousness overt. experts warn about a potential tsunami of sickness. >> biden: for the unvaccinated, we're looking at a winter of severe illness and death, unvaccinated, for themselves, their families, and the hospital they'll soon overwhelm. >> reporter: other milestone in mourning, bells tolled thursday for 800,000 americans dead from the virus. that is almost the population of san francisco. roughly 1200 americans still die daily from the virus. >> it is pretty hard because it is my third one this week. >> reporter: one of many american hospitals buckling under case loads. the nfl is reeling from a blind-side blitz of outbreaks. three of this weekend's games postponed for a days. the nba, the nhl, and the
ncaa are also playing defense to keep covid from spreading. multiply that risk of community spread on college campuses. on many, covid has exploded again, just in time for the holidays, as infected students head home for winter break. with christmas next weekend, more than 100 million will travel at least 50 miles over the next few days. so many people are sick from covid, and everyone is sick of covid. and home for the holidays has an irresistible appeal but an undeniable risk. margaret? >> brennan: u.s. health officials are closely watching omicron cases in the united kingdom for signs as to what could be headed here. cour cbs news news correspondent reports from london. >> reporter: margaret, good morning. london is the epicenter of omicron infections across the u.k., with over half
from the new variants, all of which is wreaking havoc almost everywhere. britain is convulsing because of the strain caused by omicron. violence brought out between police and anti-vaxers. the unrest comes as chilling new government figures show england has recorded the highest number of children admitted to hospital with covid since the start of the pandemic. 65 under 18s were hospitalized with covid on december 12th, with more than half just five years old and under. >> they are a lot younger than the patients that we had in the first and second surge. >> reporter: as record numbers of new infections threaten to strain the u.k.'s already struggling national health system, britain's booster program has been turbo charged. >> the wait is two and a half to three hours.
>> reporter: despite the long lines in places, few here were complaining. is that why you're getting your booster? >> yes, definitely. peace of mind. >> reporter: across europe, omicron concerns have led to a wave of new covid restrictions, including in the netherlands, where the shoppers were given little notice that weig they were going into a full lockdown. they called it very bad news. but there is a glimmer of hope. the first at-home treatment for covid has been given to patipatients in the u.k.. it will be tested on 10,000 people at risk of serious illness. a boost and a medication being described as a game-changer. officially britain is still open for business, but it is beginning to look a lot like
christmas plans are once again in disarray as people up and down the country are canceling plans because of omicron. margaret? >> brennan: thank you. we go now to the director of the national institutes of health, dr. francis collins. good morning, and before we begin, doctor, i want to note that this is your last day as director. you're not retiring, but you're stepping aside from n.i.h. thank ou for your service to the country. >> doctor: thank you, margaret. it is great to be with you this morning. >> brennan: as you step aside, it seems like the virus, though, is not going along with you. in fact, this omicron variant seems to be raging around the world. did you see this mutation coming, and is our health system prepared for what is about to hit? >> doctor: yeah, this is a big challenge. it's a brand new version. and it is so different that it has the properties to potentially be evasive of the vaccines and the other
measures that we've taken. i'm glad to say it is not totally successful at that. a big message for today is: if you've had vaccines and a booster, you're very well-protected against omicron causing you severe disease. so anybody listening to this who is in that 60% of americans who are eligible for a booster but haven't yet gotten one, this is the week to do it. do not wait. what do we know about omicron? we know it is very contagious. you saw what happened in south africa initially, and then in europe, and now in the u.s. it is doubling about every two to four days. we'll see the number of cases go up pretty steeply over the course of the next couple of weeks. that will obviously require all of us to double down on the things we know we should be doing in terms of being safe and wearing masks and avoiding indoor gatherings with other people who are not vaccinated. >> brennan: you predicted a few weeks ago we could see a million cases a day of omicron.
is the health system prepared? >> doctor: the big question is: are those million cases going to be sick enough to need health care and especially hospitalization? is this virus not quite as capable of causing severe disease? there are some encouraging signs in south africa that there is not as much in the way of hospitalization, even though the virus ran crazy the d johannesburg. i don't know what this virus will do to somebody who is h a medical condition or is over 65. we're just sort of holding our breath to see how severe the cases will be. there is certainly some chance, though, our hospitals will be pretty stressed. they already are with the delta variant. the president is going to have more to say about that in his speech on tuesday. >> brennan: among the unvaccinated ae those who are not eligible yet, the
very young. in south africa, we did see a high number of infections in children and hospitalizations. do you have any insight as to why? >> doctor: that's another really good question. i was on the phone for an hour and a half with the south african public health people looking at some of that data. it is not absolutely clear what is going on there. it is also possible that because people are really worried about kids, they're more likely to get put in the hospital in south africa just as a precaution. iti'm not absolutely convinced that omicron is more dangerous than delta, but we have to watch that closely. obviously we don't want to see that happen in our company as well. and kids who haven't been vaccinated, and that is g em whvae keepinkbout getng iected. >> brennan: would you advice people against traveling this winter. what you're talking about, it almost seems inevitable that people will get ill.
>> doctor: certainly this virus will be all around us. i'm not going to say you shouldn't travel, but i think you should do so very carefully. i think airplanes with required masking -- probably being on an airplane is pretty safe, but think about how you're going to get there and how you can be safe along the way. if you're not vaccinated, i would say travel is probably not a really good idea. if you're vaccinated and boosted, wear you're mask when you're in any kind of public place. you don't know who around you might be infected without even being aware of their symptoms because omicron can do that, too. and particular avoid those lalarge indoor gatherings with a lot of people. people are listening to this and they're going, i'm so sick of hearing this, and i am, too, but the virus is not sick of us. and it is still out there looking for us, and we've got to double down on these
things. >> brennan: as people learn to live and manage around this, they are increasingly reliant on the ly on as so of a regular stable o dr. fauci gave the information that not all of the diagnostic tests be available with omicron. which tests work? >> doctor: n.i.h. is deeply engaged in helping out with that. right now i'm pretty reassured by the early evidence that the commonly-used tests that you can get in the pharmacy that allow you to do testing at home are probably going to be okay. so hold tight on that. there are a few of these so-called p.c.r. tests, actually ones not in very heavy use that are not successful with omicron, and those will be posted on the
website. >> bre: we do have tools that work, and one of the things we did hear, though, is that there is really only one of the available monoclonal antibody that seems to be affective for those who are sick with covid. what does that mean in terms of taking tools out of the tool chest? do we have enough supply of the only one that works if someone gets sick? do they need to ask for it by name? >> doctor: that's a really the t stick to the spike protein that omicron has. i'm holding up my virus here. those spikes are what the antibody has to stick to. and the version is just different enough that some of the monoclonal antibody don't stick, but this one does. obviously we'll have to be careful to save that particular monoclonal antibody for the people at high risk. >> brennan: supply and preparedness, we will watch that. thank you very much, doctor, and good luck to you in not
your retirement, but your new line of work. >> doctor: thank you very much. and merry christmas and a happy new year. >> brennan: merry christmas. "face the nation" will be back in a minute. stay with us. to start over. and grows into an award-winning restaurant that creates local jobs. they learned how on youtube. what will you learn? (naj) at fisher investments, our clients know we have their backs. (other money manager) how do your clients know that? (naj) because as a fiduciary, it's our responsibility to always put clients first. (other money manager) so you do it because you have to? (naj) no, we do it because it's the right thing to do. we help clients enjoy a comfortable retirement. (other money manager) sounds like a big responsibility. (naj) one that we don't take lightly. it's why our fees are structured
so we do better when our clients do better. fisher investments is clearly different. >> brennan: we go now to former f.d.a. commissioner dr. scott gottlieb. good morning to you, doctor. >> doctor: good morning. >> brennan: the administration, certainly dr. collins, issuing some warnings there to take this seriously. they still, even though omicron was discovered nearly a month ago, don't seem to have a lot of answers to big questions. do what you've seen so far indicate that this will cause a more severe illness? >> doctor: there is no indication that it causes more severe illness. what we've seen in south africa is that the coupling between the cases and hospitalization, so hospitalizations are down about 30% relative to cases, and we're not probably measuring all of the cases. and more severe cases
requiring i.c.u. are down 80% relative to past cases. so it does appear to be a less severe illness. a lot of people believe, including myself, believe that the reason it is manifesting as a less severe illness is because we have base line immunity. probably 80% of americans and 90% of south africans have some level of immunity. so even though we're still getting infected, it is spreading through the immunity we acquired, we have some base line immunity that prevents us from getting very sick. >> brennan: it takes us to the unvaccinated or ineligible. as we said, you sit on the board of pfizer. we learned this week when it comes to their vaccine for those under the age of five, it is going to take more time. you had been predicting first quarter of 2022 for young children to be vaccinated. can you level that for
parents, how much longer do we have to wait? >> doctor: it depends on what the circumstances are. the base case is getting pushed out to the second qaquarter of 2022. pfizer tested a lower dose, three micrograms compared to 10 micrograms in teenagers. you don't want to have vaccine-related side effects, like pain, fevers. so they tested very low doses to try to achieve a very tolerable vaccine. in six months to two years, that low dose produced a comparable effect in terms of the immune response compared to 16 to 25-year-olds. so it was comparable to the response we see in 16 to 25-year-olds, but two to four, it was less. so the company is going back and extending the trial and looking at three doses to
see if three full doses -- we know it will be a three-dose vaccine -- whether it produces the same level of response compared to the 16 to 25-year-olds. i believe we will. i believe the f.d.a. will be in a position to make an early authorization based on the data we have right now. because even the data from the two to fouyear-olds, it is stillaseunityhat show protect them from the severe outcomes. >> brennan: and dr. collins said he didn't know why there were the larger infections among small children in south africa. back here we've been talking for months now, doctor, about learning to live with covid. but now we have this delta wave and the overlay of omicron on top of it. do we need to put the brakes on the return to normal? >> doctor: well, i think people are really tired of
living diminished lives from covid generally. you're seeing that in terms of what people are doing, and they're reengaging in activity that could be conducive to the spread of the virus. omicron has thrown a curveball. i think omicron will blow its way through the population probably very quickly, when you look at what is happening in south africa and the u.k. i think it is prudent, especially for people who are going to be around vulnerable individuals, to take added precautions heading into the holidays. try to use testing. make sure your boosted. take precautions in your settings and social settings as well. use high-quality masks when you go out. a lot of people don't want to be linked in a train of transmission that could get to a vulnerable person. so we should be prudent over the next four to six weeks. >> brennan: being prudent means testing before you go
into those family settings. you heard dr. collins say stay tuned, we'll tell you which tests work. do you have any indication which once do? >> doctor: f.d.a. is testing the tests, evaluating them against live virus this weekend, and so are the manufacturers. they've gotten ahold of patients who have been infected with omicron. every indication is that the mass market tests that people are using should hold up with this new virus. they should be able to detect it. so i think most of the tests that individuals are using are going to be just fine. it might be some of the smaller market tests that might be more suspect. but things like the bionex now, which have been evaluated very carefully, should be fine. >> brennan: you said a few weeks ago that the confusing information about the roll out of boosters could be a
problem. we heard from dr. collins that among the few tools that seems to work, they need to ramp up supply. that america doesn't have the stockpile it needs right now. why not? >> doctor: i think we haven't looked ahead the noknowns and unknowns. the government only contracted for that about a month ago. we have 55,000 doses that are finally being fully deployed, and we'll have 300,000 in january. lilly has a drug that could be deployed right now. there are 200,000 doses on palettes. we should be trying to move that to the market very quickly. we have to get to a platform where we can update them very quickly.
the vaccine division has moved very quickly to allow new iterations to come to market as the virus has evolved. we need to do the same thing with the drugs. >> brennan: very quickly, should parents expect to send their kids back to in-american school after christmas? >> doctor: i think in most places of the country, the answer is yes. in some hard-hit places, like the northeast, the great lakes, and now with omicron, where health care systems could get pressed, i think you could see some districts make decisions to extend the breaks. >> brennan: dr. scott gottlieb, thank you very much. and we'll be right back with lots more "face the nation." ozempic® is proven to lower a1c.
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>> brennan: we now turn to the growing opioid crisis, and we want to welcome to the program anne milgram, the head of the drug enforcement administration. good morning to you. >> good morning. thank you for having me. >> brennan: why is it so hard to cut off the flow of fentanyl, which is the drug that seems to be fueling these overdoses. >> fentanyl is a different drug threat than we've seen before. it is man made, made of chemicals, and right now those chemicals are largely sourced from china, they're going to the mexican criminal drug cartels that are then mass producing fentanyl. fentanyl, tiny,