FULL EPISODE: 1/3/21 Greta dives into the GA senate runoffs, Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo on COVID vaccines

Overtime: Greta asks Dr. Marrazzo when a COVID-19 vaccine may be publically available
Overtime: Greta asks Dr. Marrazzo when a COVID-19 vaccine may be publically available
Published: Jan. 2, 2021 at 5:46 PM EST
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Washington, D.C. – Greta Van Susteren interviewed Washington Post health policy reporter Yasmeen Abutaleb and Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, about the COVID pandemic and vaccines; and Laura Warren, anchor and investigative reporter for WRDW-TV News 12 and NBC 26 in Augusta, GA, about Tuesday’s Senate run-off elections for Gray Television’s “Full Court Press with Greta Van Susteren” airing Sunday, January 3, 2021.

“The enthusiasm is definitely there at the polls,” said Warren of the Georgia U.S. Senate run-offs. “We’ve continued to shatter records every single day we’ve been open for early voting.” On outside funding for the campaigns, Warren noted there was “tons of outside money.”

Yasmeen Abutaleb told Van Susteren that when it comes to vaccine distribution, there are still logistics that need to be worked out. “How do you start getting into the general population? How do you track them and make sure that they’ve gotten both the first and the second dose in the time that’s allotted?” said Abutaleb. “There are states that have complained they don’t have the resources for this right now, to carry out such a complicated and huge distribution effort.”

Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo predicted there “is going to be a reckoning after the pandemic is over ... that there were a number of emergency use authorizations, or EUAs, that came out from the FDA during this process.” Marrazzo specifically mentioned the use of hydroxychloroquine and convalescent plasma.

Interview highlights are below.

Yasmeen Abutaleb highlights

On concerns about vaccine distribution

Yasmeen Abutaleb, Health Policy Reporter, The Washington Post

The distribution of the vaccine is obviously a huge logistical challenge that we’re starting to see. There have already been some issues with states were told that their allocation of the Pfizer vaccine … is going to be lower than they thought. There are issues getting consent in nursing homes to vaccinate people on the schedule they’ve laid out. And then of course, just confidence in the vaccine, given it was developed so quickly and some of the divisiveness this year.

On how people will know when and how to get the vaccine

Yasmeen Abutaleb, Health Policy Reporter, The Washington Post

I think those are still logistics being worked out. There’s still money that states need, to figure out exactly what you’re asking. How do you start getting into the general population? How do you track them and make sure that they’ve gotten both the first and the second dose in the time that’s allotted? There are states that have complained they don’t have the resources for this right now, to carry out such a complicated and huge distribution effort. So I think a lot of that is still being worked out. A lot of that will be the retail pharmacy chains, like CVS and Walgreens. Some people will do it in their doctor’s offices, but I think we’re still waiting to see how it’s going to be coordinated on that large scale, as we get into the general population.

On achieving herd immunity

Yasmeen Abutaleb, Health Policy Reporter, The Washington Post

It is expected that we will get to herd immunity, not through natural infection, which could be catastrophic, but through a vaccination campaign. I think federal officials have been telling us, it will probably take until the spring or the summer before you get to that level, where every American who wants or needs a vaccine is able to get it. So we’re still several months out from that, but it is expected that by the middle of next year, you would have most of the country vaccinated to a high enough level that you’d start getting to herd immunity levels.

Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo highlights

On how scientists developed the vaccine in record time

Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham

The whole vaccine efficacy that we’re really excited about relates to the fact that we knew this one part of the virus called the spike protein was probably going to be the most important component that we needed to get people protected against. And we knew we were going to have to use that in the vaccine. How did we know that? Actually, we knew that from work with SARS and work with some other coronaviruses. So a lot of the resources that have been put into vaccine preparedness for other viruses and other pandemic concerns really have paid off in developing this vaccine.”

The second piece of it is you can throw enough money at something, you’re going to make it happen. And the commitment with money, resources, person power teams. I mean, having been involved in some of this, I can tell you, people have been working seven days a week around the clock to make these studies get done.

On FDA Emergency Use Authorization

Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham

What is a concern and I think is going to be a reckoning after the pandemic is over, and it’s so great to say that phrase, I don’t say it very often, is that there were a number of emergency use authorizations, or EUAs, that came out from the FDA during this process.

What we did see during the pandemic is that there was so much coming so fast at us that some things were given an EUA that maybe not everybody thought should have got an EUA. And I will give you two examples. One is hydroxychloroquine, which became very politicized, of course, as we discussed in the past, and which has been roundly I think shown to be ineffective for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19. The second is convalescent plasma, which is, again, getting blood from people who’ve had the infection and separating out whatever antibodies they might’ve made and then using that as a treatment. I think that people are not very enthusiastic about that.”

On the current COVID surge

Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham

That is what keeps me up at night and what we’ve been talking about for the past couple of weeks. Right now, things are very, very worrisome throughout the country, particularly in California, particularly really everywhere at this point in terms of ICU bed availability. And you’re right. The timing has been very consistent with what we’ve seen before from other gatherings.

This entire season is worrisome because people are going to be traveling. They’re going to be gathering. And again, with the weather, they’re going to be indoors, and gathering indoors in a place that does not have a lot of air exchange, like restaurants, for example. Without social distancing and without masking is no question the biggest risk factor for people getting coronavirus right now.”

Laura Warren highlights

On voter enthusiasm in Georgia

Laura Warren, Anchor, WRDW-TV News 12 and NBC 26 in Augusta, GAThe enthusiasm is definitely there at the polls. We’ve continued to shatter records every single day we’ve been open for early voting. We’ve shattered the already record setting November early voting numbers. So that was pretty surprising. We didn’t expect to see that high of turnout continue through the runoff. But people are definitely sick of it. The ad spend here is close to half a billion dollars at this point. So every ad you see is politically charged.

On outside money funding the campaigns

Laura Warren, Anchor, WRDW-TV News 12 and NBC 26 in Augusta, GA

Tons of outside money. And I think that’s actually been kind of contentious here in Georgia, depending on your political leaning, but people don’t tend to like the outside dollars coming in and there’s been a flood of that. So you see Republicans kind of saying, “We don’t want outsiders coming in and telling us about Georgia.” So it’s been kind of contentious, but lots of outside dollars.

On whether voters are focused on who is going to control the Senate

Laura Warren, Anchor, WRDW-TV News 12 and NBC 26 in Augusta, GA

That really is the main issue. And that’s what all of the ad dollars have been pushing. And we’ve had lots of facetime. We’ve had lots of very prestigious high-up names. We had celebrities in town. And that is the issue that everybody’s hinging on is control of the Senate. So they’ve been doing a big push for hold the line and that sort of terminology. So everybody’s kind of focused on that, control of the Senate.

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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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