FULL EPISODE: 12/6/20 Dr. Anthony Fauci talks COVID surges; Sen. Mark Warner & Sen. Rick Scott talk stimulus plans

Dr. Anthony Fauci says he was taken out of context in a new Trump campaign ad touting the...
Dr. Anthony Fauci says he was taken out of context in a new Trump campaign ad touting the president’s coronavirus response.(Source: CNN/Pool)
Updated: Dec. 5, 2020 at 10:58 PM EST
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Washington, D.C. – Greta Van Susteren interviewed Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) for Gray Television’s “Full Court Press with Greta Van Susteren” airing Sunday, December 6, 2020.

Dr. Fauci predicted COVID infections would surge in the coming weeks, saying “we have not yet seen the full brunt of the Thanksgiving travel,” said vaccine development has “totally been immune” from politics and predicted: “If we get the entire world vaccinated in the sense of the overwhelming majority … we certainly could eliminate it [COVID]. We could make the incidents so low that it’s a non-factor in what we do.”

He also credited the White House for the success of Operation Warp Speed, saying: “I think you’ve got to give credit to the administration, to the president, to the secretaries of the appropriate agencies that were involved in this, that’s for sure.”

Sen. Warner spoke of his efforts working on a new COVID relief bill: “We think we have covered fairly well all of the categories that need. We do this as a targeted emergency relief bill for four months. And what I’ve been very pleased with is that we’ve picked up a lot of Republican supporters. Lindsey Graham has tweeted out that he supports it. My good friend Mike Crapo has said he supports it. We’ve even seen some indications that President Trump may be supportive, so I’m hopeful this will be the framework that can be attached either to the spending bill that keeps the government from shutting down right before Christmas or as a standalone piece of legislation in the next two weeks.”

Sen. Scott said that although he wanted “to get something done” in terms of a COVID stimulus, he did not want to “waste taxpayer money,” adding: “Look at some of these states. California revenues are actually up, New York revenues are doing well. Why are we taking Florida taxpayer, that’s who’s going to pay for this, or other states, why are we going to take their tax dollars and give them to states that, one, are doing fine, or two, don’t want to open their economy. That doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Interview highlights are below.

Dr. Anthony Fauci Highlights

On a COVID winter surge

Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIAID Director

We have not yet seen the full brunt of the Thanksgiving travel as well as the congregation of people at various dinners and social events. That will likely manifest two weeks to two and a half weeks from Thanksgiving, which will put it about a week and a half from now. And that would put us then right at the cusp of getting into the Christmas and Hanukkah holiday, which again would be characterized by travel and by people congregating together.

You put all of those things together, as well as the cold weather, which will force people to be doing things indoors, and those kinds of modeling projections that you heard from the Director of CDC are not at all unreasonable. It is quite likely that this will happen if we don’t do something to turn it around.

On his role in the Biden Administration

Greta Van Susteren

I understand you’re going to have some role with the new Biden administration. What is it, sir, and how does it differ from what you’re doing now?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIAID Director

I had a conversation with Ron Klain and with the president-elect Biden, just talking a bit about continuing in my role as Director of NIAID, which we assumed I was going to do. But also assuming a role as a Chief Medical Advisor to the Biden administration, not only on COVID, but on other issues that relate to medicine and health. So it’s something that I would welcome doing.

On whether the vaccine development has been immune to politics

Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIAID Director

It’s all noise. It’s totally been immune. We’ve done exactly what we would have done if we were not in a very divisive situation, if it were not in an election year. It just proceeded right along. It was a lot of good science, got translated to a product, the product got tested, it got evaluated independently by a data and safety monitoring board, which deemed that this was safe and effective.

The other stuff about politics, about that, that’s all been noise.

On FDA’s approval of the vaccines and speed of production

Greta Van Susteren

We’ve all gotten an incredible education as lay people in vaccines and how remarkable it is that in about eight or nine months that we have so many vaccines available. Pfizer and Moderna both having applied for the emergency use authorization from the FDA. We’re all waiting for that. Can that be sped up? Are they working 24/7 or could it be sped up at all?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIAID Director

I think that the career scientists at the FDA are doing everything they possibly can to get this done appropriately, correctly, so that a month or two or three from now, people don’t look back and say, “Ah, you missed something. You did it too fast.” They’re doing it as quickly as you possibly can. That’s what they do. That’s their job. They’re professionals and I have faith that they’re doing it as well and as quickly as we possibly can.

Greta Van Susteren

Once these vaccines get emergency use authorization, is there any way to amp up that production like we amped up with ventilators? Are there other labs that can step in and help or not? Is it too complicated a process to create these vaccines?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIAID Director

Well, it’s not that complicated and they can ramp up and they will likely be negotiating with the companies to do more. But you have to remember that the original plan that we had for the United States and globally, but let’s just focus on the United States, was it wasn’t only those two companies. We’ve contracted with a total of six groups, five of which are already well into the process of either finishing the testing, like Moderna and Pfizer, or heavily involved like Johnson, J&J, AstraZeneca, Novavax and other companies. Those are the companies now that are also part of this plan. So when their testing shows safety and efficacy, then you’ll get a lot of vaccines from more than just Moderna and Pfizer. That’s what the general plan is.

On Operation Warp Speed and the Trump administration

Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIAID Director

I think what’s very clear is that Operation Warp Speed has been an extraordinarily successful endeavor.

Greta Van Susteren

Who gets credit for that, by the way?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIAID Director

I think the Trump administration gets credit for that, absolutely. You’ve got to give credit where credit was due. There was a lot that had to do with the Department of HHS, with Alex Azar played a major role in that, the Department of Defense, originally with Mark Esper, had a lot to do with that. I think you have to give credit where credit is due.

Greta Van Susteren

President Trump, does he get credit for this too?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIAID Director

Absolutely. I think you’ve got to give credit to the administration, to the president, to the secretaries of the appropriate agencies that were involved in this, that’s for sure.

On Hydroxychloroquine treatment

Anthony Fauci

That’s been beaten to death. Multiple studies have shown that it’s not effective, and yet there’s people who think it is, but it isn’t.

On how the vaccine will be distributed to states

Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIAID Director

The amount that would go to a state is going to be prorated purely on the basis of the population of the state. Once it gets to the state, the local, state, and city health officials will make a decision about how it’s going to be distributed among the elderly, among the hospitalized, among these, among that

They will do that based on a [recommendation] from the CDC in association with their advisory committee on immunization practices. But it gets shipped to the states federally by the military, actually. General Gus Perna and his group doing the transportation by plane, by truck, by any other means to get it to the states where they need to be. Once they get to the states, then it’s local. Then the states make the decision about what they want to do with it.

On whether it’s possible to spread the virus after getting the vaccine

Greta Van Susteren

Assuming I get this vaccine and I have 95% protection, give or take a little bit, I now feel protected so that the virus isn’t going to get into me and replicate and do all its damage and create an inflammatory storm. But is the nasal cavity a host so that it could still collect virus that could be infectious to others?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIAID Director

We don’t know that now. So it is possible that you could be protected from clinically recognizable disease but still have the virus in your nasal pharynx. We will know, after we examine data over a period of time, whether the vaccine, A, prevents any virus from being in your nose, or B, if it doesn’t prevent it from being in your nose, but it diminishes the titer of the virus dramatically. So even if you are technically infected, the level of virus is so low in your nasal pharynx that you’re not going to infect anybody else. Those are all open questions that we will find the answer to, but we don’t know the answer right now.

On anti-vaxxers and achieving herd immunity

Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIAID Director

If 30% to 40% of the people say they don’t want to get vaccinated, that’s going to be a problem because that’s going to diminish the efficacy of the herd immunity, the umbrella over society that’s protecting them. That’s the reason why we really need to reach out to the community and convince people as to the transparency and the independence of the process of the development of the vaccine so that they will be willing to go out and get vaccinated. That’s what we’ve got to be pushing for.

On whether the virus will go away

Greta Van Susteren

Is this virus going away? Or are we going to be living with this particular virus?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, NIAID Director

Greta, if we get the entire world vaccinated in the sense of the overwhelming majority, the same way we did with smallpox, with polio, with measles, if we do that, we could crush this virus. We could just make it a non entity. It may not get eradicated, we’ve only eradicated one virus that’s a human virus and that’s smallpox, but we certainly could eliminate it. We could make the incidents so low that it’s a non-factor in what we do. That I believe is possible.

Sen. Mark Warner Highlights

On COVID relief

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.)

I was one of the eight folks who’ve spent the last three weeks fashioning that framework. We realized that, as a Democrat, we were not going to get the $2 trillion from Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer were, the $500 billion component that Mitch McConnell had put out.

It does make sure that we provide unemployment for people whose unemployment runs out on December 26th, the day after Christmas, to continue unemployment for folks who are like the gig workers, independent contractors. We’ve got more assistance in there for state and local governments. We’ve got assistance in terms of food insecurity. We’ve got money for vaccine distribution. We’ve got, even for the first time, a significant amount of money, $10 billion for broadband expansion.

We think we have covered fairly well all of the categories that need. We do this as a targeted emergency relief bill for four months. And what I’ve been very pleased with is that we’ve picked up a lot of Republican supporters. Lindsey Graham has tweeted out that he supports it. My good friend Mike Crapo has said he supports it. We’ve even seen some indications that President Trump may be supportive, so I’m hopeful this will be the framework that can be attached either to the spending bill that keeps the government from shutting down right before Christmas or as a standalone piece of legislation in the next two weeks.

On the spending bill deadline

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.)

Not only would it be stupidity on steroids if we don’t do a COVID deal, it would be double stupidity on steroids if we decided to shut down the government right before Christmas. I don’t think anyone from Democrats, Republicans, the folks in the Trump administration, the incoming Biden administration, I think they all want, and I think we will get a deal, by December 11th.

On hackers potentially stealing vaccine data

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.)

I can’t get into a lot of details, but our adversaries want to steal our intellectual property. Many countries see this as a global competition. Russia in particular has been talking about its so-called Sputnik II, their vaccine. The Chinese have their own variations. So, just like any other part of our society at the moment, financial information at Equifax to our personal information at the OPM, that was the government’s information on personnel, to the supply chains and our intellectual property around vaccines, in the world of cyber, they are all under assault.

On Biden Cabinet confirmations

Greta Van Susteren

Now that we’re going into a whole new Congress, there are going to be questions about with the Cabinet confirmation. Do you anticipate that this is going to be a real struggle, a real slug fest between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate as to which Cabinet members get confirmed or not, and at what pace?

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.)

Well, Greta, I hope not.

If it’s somebody way outside the mainstream, maybe you can oppose, but I voted for the vast majority of Mr. Trump’s appointees. I hope that same consideration will be done by my Republican colleagues for the Biden appointees. I think so far the Biden team is experienced. I think it’s stress tested. I think this is a time when we need people who know how government operates when we’ve got to deal with both a very challenged economy, the ramifications of the COVID pandemic, and a world where virtual cyber domain or from a China that continues to move aggressively forward, particularly in technology development, we’re going to need all hands on deck from day one.

On whether Congress should get rid of Section 230

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.)

The algorithms that drive the news that you see on your Facebook feed is as every bit as sophisticated as anything any broadcasting company has. So, I think they should not have the kind of total immunity and total protections. Would I completely get rid of Section 230? I wouldn’t start there. But I would look at things like people should have First Amendment rights to say anything, but do they have a right to amplify misinformation/disinformation?

I think there’s a debate there. I think we should not give these platforms protection from civil rights laws. So, that should you be able to post racist, inappropriate things, you can’t do that on broadcasting or on newspapers and that we need to re-examine that.

I think there’s an area where there could be, candidly, bipartisan support for reform of Section 230. I think its time has come.

Sen. Rick Scott Highlights

On COVID relief

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.)

I’d like to get something done. I think all of us would like to help the people who have lost their jobs, help our small businesses, make sure our schools get open, make sure that we have more money for testing the vaccine, but we don’t want to waste any money. In my case, this is somebody’s money and I do not want to be bailing out these states that don’t want to live within their means.

Greta Van Susteren

The Democrats have come down from Speaker Pelosi’s three trillion plus to this and the Republicans wanted a targeted bill, and it seems like this is pretty targeted. It’s pretty stripped down. Vice President Biden, soon to be President Biden, says that this is a down payment, so people are at least talking.

Maybe a city like New York has not lived within its means, but it’s in a desperate situation. Do we look the other way?

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.)

I’m not going to waste taxpayer money and Florida taxpayers are not going to pay for wasteful money in these other states. Look at some of these states. California revenues are actually up, New York revenues are doing well. Why are we taking Florida taxpayer, that’s who’s going to pay for this, or other states, why are we going to take their tax dollars and give them to states that, one, are doing fine, or two, don’t want to open their economy. That doesn’t make any sense to me.

On what we should do about COVID right now

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.)

I think we’ve got to be really clear to people, wear your mask, social distance. If you tested positive or around somebody, you got to quarantine. On top of that, we’ve got to get this testing, robust testing, where everybody knows where it is. We;ve got to make sure people can get tested. I think we have a lot of work to do there. I’m excited about the vaccines that are coming out. I want to make sure everybody knows how that’s going to get out there and we get that out there in an efficient manner.

On confirming Biden’s Cabinet

Greta Van Susteren

Do you expect that the Republicans, if they maintain a majority in the Senate, will give a fair hearing, or is this going to be a slug fest and digging deep into the backgrounds of all the cabinet selectees?

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.)

Well, first off, I hope it’s fair. We need to look at everybody’s background, we need to look at what they’ve said in the past, what they’ve done in the past, what they’re saying they’re going to do in the future. This is the people who are going to be advising the president.

I want people that are going to understand we can’t keep going down this path of 27 plus trillion dollars for the debt, a federal reserve of a $7 trillion balance sheet. We can’t have a foreign policy that appeases dictators, which is what Obama did. I think it’s important that we vet them, but we’ve got to be fair about it.

On the Georgia Senate races

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.)

We’re going to win both those races. Everybody knows that Republicans have to win this, otherwise Chuck Schumer’s going to control the Senate, and then all the things that most of us don’t agree with - we don’t believe that Chuck Schumer ought to be able to pack the Supreme Court, infringe upon our First Amendment, Second Amendment rights. We don’t believe they should pass a Green New Deal, which would kill our economy and cost us almost $100 trillion. We don’t believe they ought to have Medicare for all, which will ruin the Medicare program and kick 150 million people off their plans. I think everybody in Georgia has figured out this is an important race and that’s why we’re going to win.

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About Greta Van Susteren:

Greta Van Susteren is the Chief Political Analyst for Gray Media and host of Full Court Press. Ms. Van Susteren is a veteran of Fox News Channel, MSNBC, and CNN. Her prime-time Fox News Channel Show, “On the Record,” was number 1 in its time slot for 14 1⁄2 years. Before joining Fox News, she hosted CNN’s prime-time news and analysis program, “The Point with Greta Van Susteren,” and co-hosted the network’s daily legal analysis show, “Burden of Proof.” Her legal analysis for CNN’s coverage of Election 2000 earned her the American Bar Association’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Journalism. She continues to host the weekly 30-minute program “Plugged In with Greta Van Susteren” on Voice of America, which broadcasts exclusively outside of the United States.

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