On this “Face the Nation” broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:
- Sen. Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia
- Samantha Power, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development
- Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois
- Dr. Paul Burton, chief medical officer of Moderna
- Dr. Deborah Birx, former White House coronavirus response coordinator
Clickto browse full transcripts of “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m Margaret Brennan in Washington.
And today on Face the Nation: a powerful show of support for Ukraine from top congressional Democrats, as the Biden administration pushes for tens of billions more in aid for that war-torn country. We will have the latest on the military maneuvers and diplomatic efforts in the war that’s now entering its 10th week.
The head of U.S. Agency for International Development Samantha Power and Virginia Democratic Senator Tim Kaine will both be here.
Then: The committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol is preparing for what they hope to be critical public hearings next month. We will hear from Illinois Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger about what to expect.
And, finally, a vaccine for the very youngest may be just weeks away. We will talk with Dr. Paul Burton, the chief medical officer at Moderna.
Plus, we will check in with Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator under President Trump. Her new book is entitled “Silent Invasion.”
It’s all just ahead on Face the Nation.
Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation.
We awoke this morning to a stunning sight, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi being greeted by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the streets of Kyiv. She and six other Democrats made a surprise visit to the region to show support and discuss the president’s proposed additional $33 billion U.S. aid package to Ukraine.
REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI (D-California): We are here to say to you that we are with you until this fight is over.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY (Ukrainian President): We will win, and we will win together.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And we begin today with CBS News foreign correspondent Charlie D’Agata, who has the latest from Eastern Ukraine.
CHARLIE D’AGATA: Good morning, Margaret.
This is what’s left of an industrial site destroyed by the Russians after learning it was being used as a base by Ukrainian forces. It’s just an example of the onslaught facing Ukrainians along the front line.
CHARLIE D’AGATA (voice-over): From beneath the smoldering ruins of the steel plant in Mariupol, a hint of hope. Ukrainian fighters said around 20 women and children made it out, of the hundreds of civilians who’ve been trapped for months.
Along the front lines in the east, the fight for the Donbass region has become a battle of artillery and attrition. Russian forces have greater numbers and a longer reach. Places like Popasna have been flattened.
The town of Lyman is expected to be among the next to fall. Volunteers shuttled a few remaining residents in a minibus. Alina described the shelling is constant, day and night. Her 87-year-old mother, Lydia, escaped with little more than her wheelchair and her cat, Dasha.
Right after we left town, a Russian airstrike destroyed that railway bridge leading out of town. It’s part of a wider campaign for Russians trying to stop U.S. and Western weapons from reaching Ukrainian forces fighting on these front lines.
And everywhere we have gone, we have found freshly dug defensive positions, fallbacks for retreating Ukrainian forces. It’s where we found volunteer Joshua Cropper, an Iraq War Marine veteran from Wasilla, Alaska.
JOSHUA CROPPER (U.S. Marine Veteran): It’s nothing that I have experienced before. It’s a different type of war.
CHARLIE D’AGATA: What is it like fighting beside these Ukrainian forces?
JOSHUA CROPPER: I wish that they had more NATO experience, more NATO training, but…
CHARLIE D’AGATA: More NATO weapons?
JOSHUA CROPPER: More NATO weapons. But their heart is in the right place and their conviction is in the right place.
CHARLIE D’AGATA: Heart and conviction only goes so far.
The battalion commander said they have yet to receive any of America’s promised heavy weapons, showing us-supplied Browning .50-caliber machine gun that jams every two rounds.
Just up the road from us, battle-weary soldiers take a break after nearly two months of heavy fighting. The Ukrainian government said the Russians have suffered heavy losses for modest gains, yet the intensity of the fight has only worsened by the day.
CHARLIE D’AGATA: The next few days here will be critical.
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said there’s evidence that the Russian military is building up troops and weaponry in order to step up the assault on this region — Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Charlie D’Agata, thank you.
And we have received word this morning from the International Committee of the Red Cross that those evacuations are indeed taking place in Mariupol. And we hope they can continue safely.
We turn now to national security correspondent David Martin.
David, always great to have you here.
This is, on the calendar, at least, supposed to be a key week driving towards May 9, a holiday in Russia that Vladimir Putin apparently puts a lot of weight on. What wins will his military actually be able to deliver to him?
DAVID MARTIN: Well, I don’t think they’re going to get all of the Donbass, which is what he is said he wants, by May 9.
On Saturday, Russian forces made no advances on any fronts. Earlier in the week, their progress was being described as plodding, slow, uneven, incremental. Pick your word. But it was progress.
And if you look at a map of Ukraine before the war started and the front lines today, Russia has seized a lot of territory in Southern and Eastern Ukraine. Now, he still has a ways to go in order to get all of the Donbass. And he’s extremely unlikely to get that by May 9.
But if the Russians keep up with these steamroller tactics of using artillery just to level everything in front of them, and then advancing a few kilometers and doing it all over again, the fact that the Russians aren’t able to produce a victory for Putin by May 9 is going to be small consolation for the people in the path of that steamroller.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And we know U.S. diplomats this week were sharing information about the strategy diplomatically or politically, to go along with the battlefield, of breaking off some of these pieces of territory, holding what the U.S. called sham elections, actually physically moving people out of areas that they decided were key.
What do we know about where the focus is? I know we hear a lot about the east, but is it that Kherson area? Is it Odessa? Where should we be focusing most?
DAVID MARTIN: In the east.
They have — I think and the Pentagon thinks that the strikes on Odessa are a — just a diversionary tactic. Nobody believes that Russia has the troops to go and take Odessa. And I think the Russians would be very leery of putting ships in closer to make an amphibious assault on Odessa, simply because that’s how they lost their flagship, the Moskva, when it was hit by a Ukrainian anti-ship missile.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We have seen a lot of images of the weapons going into Ukraine, not just from the U.S. now, from the U.K., from Poland.
They have a lot of equipment going in, and they have some U.S. intelligence as well. This looks more and more like the West is becoming party to this conflict in some way.
DAVID MARTIN: They have a lot of U.S. intelligence.
The U.S. is basically giving the Ukrainians everything they have on Ukrainian troop movements — excuse me — Russian troop movements, Russian battle plans. So, the Ukrainians have a very good picture of what the Russians are up to.
And the end of big battles, you usually read a history in which intelligence turned out to be decisive in that battle. I don’t think you can say that yet, but you can certainly say that the Ukrainians are going to have an intelligence advantage. The issue is going to be whether that intelligence gets down to the units that need to act on the intelligence.
MARGARET BRENNAN: David Martin, great insights and reporting. Thank you.
DAVID MARTIN: Sure thing.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And we go now to Senator Tim Kaine, who joins us from Richmond, Virginia.
Good morning to you, Senator.
SENATOR TIM KAINE (D-Virginia): Great to be with you, Margaret. Thank you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we woke up to those images of Speaker Pelosi and top congressional Democrats walking around downtown Kyiv.
It’s a statement of support. I know President Biden has asked for that statement to be backed up with $33 billion of funding from Congress. How quickly do you think this will get done?
SENATOR TIM KAINE: Margaret, we’ll — we’ll turn to it as soon as we get back to the Senate tomorrow.
And I think we need to push it very, very quickly. Obviously, we just did an aid package for Ukraine about a month ago that was about $13 billion. And that is a dramatic escalation over what we did in 2021 and even before that.
But this additional aid is — is necessary to help Ukraine win and beat Russia’s illegal invasion of their country.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, when that last $13 billion package was passed, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell was on this program. And he said, if the Ukrainians want more money, we’ll give it to them.
You don’t hear Republican leaders say, ask me to spend more. But that’s exactly what’s happening here.
So, for Democrats, when you try to push this through, can there be a commitment to just having this be a stand-alone aid package to Ukraine, or does it have to be paired with things like COVID funding?
SENATOR TIM KAINE: I don’t think it does, Margaret.
You know, you follow the Hill pretty carefully. The procedure of where you put bills together or separate them is quirky and sometimes unpredictable. But, no, we don’t — we need COVID aid. We need Ukraine aid. We should do them together or separately, but we shouldn’t wait around.
And I think that’s what May needs to be about for us, is getting both of these done, together with the competitiveness bill. I think those three big bills, Ukraine aid, COVID aid, and the competitiveness bill, are the three big tasks ahead of us in May.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But, the bigger it gets, the slower it goes. Ukraine says they don’t have time, so why not make this a stand-alone bill?
And if it is just a defense-oriented bill, do you need to have food security funding in there? Do you need to have global vaccine funding in there as well?
SENATOR TIM KAINE: Well, again, we can break it into smaller pieces or larger pieces.
We do need to do this quickly. But, remember, Margaret, in the — in the aid package that we put in a month or so ago, it was about $6.8 billion for military aid and an equivalent amount for humanitarian aid. That aid does not go all out the door at the same moment. Virtually every week, President Biden is releasing $500 million, $800 million of the aid.
And we still have more of that first package to release to Ukraine. We need to get it to them when they need it with the weapons they need. And we are — we still have some time to pass this next package. But I think my — my colleagues in Congress on both sides, with very few exceptions, they understand how significant this is.
There’s quite a bit of bipartisan resolve on the Ukraine aid package.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Your Democratic colleague Senator Coons was on this program a few weeks ago, and he said there at least needs to be a conversation about when the United States would use force potentially in Ukraine.
Do you think there needs to be a discussion of authorization of use of force?
SENATOR TIM KAINE: I think that would be premature, Margaret.
But I think there’s a shared sense that, first, if Russia were to take action against any NATO’s ally, Article 5 of NATO’s would mandate a military response. And that would be…
MARGARET BRENNAN: But why would it be premature if President Biden has already said he won’t send troops? He’s already set a line.
SENATOR TIM KAINE: Yes, but he’s also said that use of nuclear weapons or chemical weapons could alter the equation.
So, right now, the status quo is, we are providing massive amounts of aid to Ukraine, both the U.S. and NATO allies and others. If there were to be an invasion of a NATO country, a kinetic or even a cyberattack, or if there were to be use of chemical or nuclear weapons in Ukraine, that would change the equation.
But, for now, I think the right strategy is to flood the zone with military and humanitarian aid.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.
One of the issues when it comes to COVID aid, as you know — this has gotten fairly tangled, but what may happen at the U.S. border.
SENATOR TIM KAINE: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: … and the potential expiration that’s slated for the end of May of Title 42, which is pandemic regulation that allows for asylum-seeking migrants to be denied immediate entry.
Is there a way around this roadblock? Do you see it inevitable that there will be a vote on Title 42?
SENATOR TIM KAINE: I think — I think it will, Margaret.
We need — we need a vote on the long — on the COVID aid package. And Republicans have made plain that they want a vote on Title 42 as part of a discussion about COVID aid. I am a strong believer, whether I’m in the majority or minority, that there ought to be amendments and we ought to allow votes on amendments on the floor.
I worry a little bit that sometimes majority parties, Democrat or Republican, slow-walk legislation to try to avoid controversial amendment votes. But I’m elected by Virginians to vote on things, controversial or otherwise. And if, after 28 years in office, I can’t explain a vote on something, I’m not very good at what I’m doing.
So I think we’ll have a COVID aid package vote soon, in May, and I think the Republicans will ask for a Title 42 amendment vote as part of it. And we ought to see what the amendment is, and then vote it up or down based upon whether it’s a good amendment or not.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But you’ve also been somewhat critical of the Biden administration’s plan to allow for that border health restriction to expire at the end of May. When’s the right date?
SENATOR TIM KAINE: Margaret, what I have said is this. Title 42 needs to expire.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
SENATOR TIM KAINE: It’s an emergency regulation, and it needs to be replaced by more permanent procedures and plans to do a better job at the border.
And so I was confused about the timing. We were going to have Title 42 expire on May 23, and then have new asylum and border rules go into place May 31. I was just confused with the administration’s messaging about this, but…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Is it clear now?
SENATOR TIM KAINE: … DHS laid out a pretty — DHS laid out a pretty comprehensive plan last week with six pillars, flooding personnel to the border, which they’re doing already, preparing for use of expedited removals for individuals who can’t make a credible claim for asylum, for example, more work in Central America to help their economies grow, so that the push of poor economic conditions leading to migration will abate.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
SENATOR TIM KAINE: DHS has now laid out a plan.
And the right answer for the border is not an emergency short-term regulation. The right answer is permanent fixes that will help. That was part of our immigration reform bill in 2013…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
SENATOR TIM KAINE: … that passed the Senate in a bipartisan way that the Republican House refused to take up.
MARGARET BRENNAN: One quick question for you.
I know you suffer from long-term effects of your COVID infection. There’s already been about a billion-dollar effort underway to study it at the National Institutes of Health. Why is that not enough? And how much more money is needed?
SENATOR TIM KAINE: Margaret, I think I would say I’m experiencing long COVID. There are people who are really suffering it.
I wouldn’t call myself a sufferer. I have a bizarre nerve-tingling sensation that feels like my skin is dipped in an Alka-Seltzer that’s just going off 24/7. But I can work. I can exercise. I can do my thing.
But, as you know, a lot of people with long COVID have respiratory issues, heart issues, fatigue. You’re right. We put a significant amount of money in the American Rescue Plan.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
SENATOR TIM KAINE: And we’re beginning to do major research at the NIH and at other institutions.
But we need to do more research, spread the results of the research, provide information…
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.
SENATOR TIM KAINE: … to patients, families, providers, employers.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
SENATOR TIM KAINE: And then probably there will be a need to provide support to those who are really suffering under long COVID.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We will continue to cover that on this program as well.
Thank you, Senator.
SENATOR TIM KAINE: OK.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll be back with a lot more. Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re joined now by the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Samantha Power. She’s also the former ambassador to the United Nations.
Good morning to you, Madam Ambassador.
SAMANTHA POWER (USAID Administrator): Morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We know the last holdout by Ukrainian forces in that southeastern city of Mariupol has been under constant bombardment. So has the city, roughly 100,000 people believed to be trapped there, running out of resources.
Is there truly nothing the U.S. can do, except watch?
ADMINISTRATOR SAMANTHA POWER: Well, I don’t think that’s a fair characterization of what the U.S. has done.
It’s not my job to talk about the security assistance that has been provided, but that has been the means by which the Ukrainians have been able to fight back and hang on as long as they have.
We have exerted all kinds of diplomatic pressure vis-a-vis countries that have retained influence with Putin, everything from Turkey to Israel to India to China. And Putin doesn’t care and is defying the will of the world to allow civilians to be evacuated, to allow food and medicine to get in there. And it is a travesty.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The U.S. ambassador to the OSCE, Michael Carpenter, said this week Russia is going to intensify those forced transfers of people into so-called filtration camps.
That’s what he called them. He said they’re abducting, torturing, murdering local leaders, journalists, civil society activists, religious leaders.
How many people are in these camps? What evidence do you have of what’s happening there?
ADMINISTRATOR SAMANTHA POWER: We’re deeply concerned by the Ukrainian reports of what is happening to civilians in the east.
We know some people are escaping Russian bombardment by moving into Russia voluntarily. And the ICRC and other international organizations are gathering lists of those people who families are alleging to be missing, to have gone now without cell phone contact, in some cases, for many weeks.
And, again, it is going to be incumbent on those organizations that are working inside Russia to press the Russian Federation, just as we do through our sanctions and through our global pressure, to account for anybody who has traveled inside the Russian Federation.
But I don’t have any information on that. What I will say is that USAID is working inside Ukraine to help civil society activists, human rights activists who have received death threats or who are vulnerable to relocate, whether to safe houses or to neighboring countries, in order to ensure that they are not subjected to this level of persecution.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The president did authorize U.S. diplomats to return to Ukraine this week.
They haven’t reopened the embassy yet. Are you saying your USAID staff are already inside and working to do this?
ADMINISTRATOR SAMANTHA POWER: What we do, Margaret, in circumstances like this especially is, we work through our implementing partners.
So we have folks who are, in a sense, indirectly on the ground, but who are receiving U.S. taxpayer resources in order to provide everything from flak jackets and helmets, again, to those safe houses or the kind of training that journalists maybe had not had before about how to work in war zones or work to gather evidence of war crimes or other atrocities.
So we’re sort of turning our previous programming, which was very extensive all across Ukraine, into programming that is suited for this moment through our Ukrainian partners who are working inside Ukraine. We are super eager to get back into Ukraine to be able to see that work up close and to be in a position again to channel, for example, the new supplemental funding we hope will be coming to those partners who urgently need it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And that funding the president asked for this week is about $33 billion. Congress holds the purse strings here, and it took them about three weeks to get the aid passed last time around.
How long can you wait for the funding that the president has asked for here? And what are you doing in the meantime to prevent things like a global famine?
ADMINISTRATOR SAMANTHA POWER: Well, first, let me express gratitude to the Congress for the prior supplemental package.
We are spending that money now in Ukraine in order to meet humanitarian needs. You’re right, not in Mariupol, where the city is besieged, not able to get that food in there. But there are vast swathes of Ukraine that have been newly liberated by Ukrainian forces where there is desperate need, everything from demining, to trauma kits, to food assistance, since markets are not back up and running.
And so that assistance is flowing. And it’s also flowing to third countries that are feeling these huge cascading effects of Putin’s war, like the spiraling food prices, like the lower supplies of fertilizer, wheat, grain.
You know, you have as many as 40 million people that could be pushed into poverty now just because of Russia’s war. So, we’re already spending some of that money, but the burn rate is very, very high as prices spiral inside Ukraine and outside Ukraine. So that’s why this supplemental is so important.
It entails both humanitarian assistance, $3 billion of humanitarian assistance, to meet those global needs, which are famine-level, acute malnutrition needs. And it includes very significant direct budget support for the government of Ukraine, because what we want to ensure is that that government can continue providing services for its people.
Putin would like nothing more than the government of Ukraine to go bankrupt and not be able actually to cater to the needs of the people. That would weaken Ukrainian solidarity. And Putin wants nothing more, of course, than to strengthen his bargaining hand here, as he exerts military pressure and financial pressure at once. We can’t let that happen.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Ambassador Power, thank you for your time this morning.
We’ll be back with a lot more Face the Nation. Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back with Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back with a lot more Face the Nation, so stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION.
The chairman for the committee investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol announced a series of public hearings will be held in June, with the very first one scheduled for the 9th.
Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois is a member of that committee, and he joins us this morning.
Good morning to you, Congressman.
Do you expect this to be more of building a public narrative or will new information come to light in these hearings?
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Well, I think certainly new information will come to light. I think it’s important — you know, we’ve been talking about January 6th now for a year and a half. It’s important for us to lay the whole story out in front of the American people from both what led to January 6th, the lies after the election, the fundraising, the 187 minutes the president basically sat in the Oval Office and everything since, including the response by DOD. And it’s important for us to be able to put that in front of the American people because, ultimately, they have to be the judge.
You know, the Department of Justice will make decisions based on information, but the American people are going to be the ones that have to take the work we’ve done and decide what they want to do with it or what they want to believe after that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You know, we keep hearing from the committee, including the chairman, that there will be members of Congress requested to come and speak and answer your questions. And, still, none of them have come really. Are you in favor of subpoenaing members? And, if so, who do you need to talk to?
ADAM KINZINGER: Well, I won’t say who I think we need to talk to yet. I mean I think everybody needs to come and talk to us. We’ve requested information from various members in terms of whether we move forward with a subpoena is going to be both a strategic, tactical decision and a question of whether or not, you know, we can do that and get the information in time. And those are decisions we make every day.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you favor one?
ADAM KINZINGER: Yes, I mean, I think, ultimately, whatever we can do to get that information. I think if that takes a subpoena, it takes a subpoena.
But I think the key is, regardless of even what some members of Congress are going to tell us, we know a lot of information around it. We — right now we’re kind of not even building a broader narrative. We’re going deeper with richer and more detail to show the American people.
MARGARET BRENNAN: A lawyer for Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene said this week she was not a participant in the January 6th violence, she was a victim. There were text messages revealed this week in which she was discussing martial law with Mark Meadows, then chief of staff.
Do you need to ask her a few questions?
ADAM KINZINGER: Yes, I mean, I would love to ask her a few questions. We know some things. I won’t confirm or deny the text messages, of course.
But let me just say this, for Marjorie Taylor Greene to say she’s a victim, it’s amazing how, you know, folks like her attack everybody for being a victim. I mean she assaulted, I think, a survivor’s family from a school shooting at some point in D.C. She stood outside a congresswoman’s office and yelled at her through a mail slot and said she was too scared to come out and confront her.
And then when Marjorie Taylor Greene is confronted, she’s all of a sudden a victim and a poor, helpless congresswoman that’s just trying to do her job. It’s insane. We want the information.
Look, history is not going to judge her or people like her that are buying the big lie well. I firmly believe that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Vice President Mike Pence did the right thing in terms of certifying the election. He is a central player in this story. As a Republican, do you want to see him come forward and actually speak to you?
ADAM KINZINGER: Yes. I would love to see that. And I hope he would do so voluntarily. These are decisions I think that we’re going to end up making from a tactical perspective in the next, you know, week or two as we basically pin down what this hearing schedule is going to look like, the content, and as we go into the full narrative of this thing.
I would hope and think that the vice president would want to come in and tell his story because he did do the right thing on that day. If he doesn’t, then we’ll look at the options we have available to us if there’s information we don’t already have.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right.
I know you’re not a fan of the former president, but he is, in some ways, playing a very large role in some upcoming primaries. In Ohio, in particular, JD Vance he’s endorsed, a number of other candidates, Pennsylvania, Herschel Walker, Georgia.
If those hand-picked candidates end up winning, is this a sign that indeed Donald Trump is still the leader and kingmaker within the party?
ADAM KINZINGER: Yes, I think it would be a sign. And I think, you know, there’s — that’s going to be a big — this primary season is going to be a big moment to figure that out. So, I have this organization, Country 1st, Country1st.com. And our focus is on playing in some of those primaries to bring at least reasonable people to the forefront and encouraging folks that are going to live, for instance, in a guaranteed Republican district. You know, vote in that primary. It matters.
And — so, yes, I do think the primary season is going — going to tell. But, keep in mind the president’s — the former president’s tactic here. If somebody starts falling behind in the polls, he always finds a reason to un-endorse them because he doesn’t like having a losing track record. So I think that’s important to watch too.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, JD Vance, because that’s what, May 3rd. When you say “reasonable people,” you don’t think reasonable people are voting in the Ohio Republican primary for him?
ADAM KINZINGER: Well, I — you know, look, from what I’ve seen there’s one at least maybe reasonable candidate. But, no. I mean, look, if you — if you’re JD Vance two years ago, you know, you’re a totally different JD Vance than you are today. This is a guy that said that he, frankly, doesn’t care what happens in Ukraine. It’s very similar to what people like Tucker Carlson have said.
Look, I mean, that can’t — for me, as a Republican, that doesn’t represent what I believe.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
ADAM KINZINGER: And the party has to make the decision if they want to be that kind of party or not.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Speaker Pelosi and top Democrats were in Ukraine overnight, as I’m sure you know. Do you see impediments to getting this $33 billion that the president has asked to be passed?
ADAM KINZINGER: I certainly hope not. I mean, look, there’s — we do have outliers of people that seem to show some Putin sympathy. But for the most part, Congress is vastly and largely united on the issue of Ukraine. We recognize Ukraine is fighting for all of us. That $33 billion is significantly less than what we would have to spend if we took Russia on directly. So I hope we don’t have any impediments to that at all. I would expect we do.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Kaine was with us, and he said it is too soon to begin talking about potential use of force in Ukraine.
Do you think he is right?
ADAM KINZINGER: No, I don’t. I don’t think we need to be using force in Ukraine right now. I just introduced an AUMF, an Authorization for the Use of Military Force, giving the president basically congressional leverage or permission to use it if WMDs, nuclear, biological or chemical are used in Ukraine. Doesn’t compel the president to do it. It just says, if it is used, he has that leverage. It gives him, you know, a better flexibility, but also it is a deterrent to Vladimir Putin. If Vladimir Putin wants to escalate with the west, he will. It’s easy for him to do it. And I think right now what we’re doing with suppling, with (INAUDIBLE), with the financing is right, but there may be a point that we have to recognize, you know, look, this is — world war — prior to World War II, there were moments nobody ever wanted to get involved and eventually came to realize they had to. I hope we don’t get to that point here. But we should be ready if we do.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right.
Congressman Adam Kinzinger, thank you for your time today.
We’ll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Last week Moderna asked the FDA to authorize its vaccine for children under the age of six.
The company’s chief medical officer, Dr. Paul Burton, joins us now from Princeton, New Jersey.
Doctor, welcome to FACE THE NATION.
PAUL BURTON, M.D., CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, MODERNA: Thank you, Margaret. Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the FDA said Friday it will not delay one vaccine to wait for the other. In other words, they’re not trying to put Pfizer and Moderna head to head here necessarily. Each application will be considered when the data is ready.
So are you confident that Moderna will be ready for the FDA to review your vaccine at their June meeting?
PAUL BURTON: Yes. Absolutely, Margaret.
So, we submitted our data last week. I think the FDA now have, you know, all of the core fundamental data they need to be able to begin that application review. So, yes, we’re very confident.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You have begun it, but you won’t have all of it in until May 9th I had read. You’re committed to that date?
PAUL BURTON: Yes, absolutely.
So the data in, you know, the study has been completed. We have the data. Now, typically, what we then do is to package the data electronically, supply to it the FDA so, of course, they can conduct their own views, their own analysis of the data. That’s what we’ll go in by May 9th. But they have the data that they need now to begin.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK. So, I mean, full disclosure, I have children in this age group. So, as a parent, I’m very interested in the explanations you have for how this vaccine will work.
According to the Moderna release, the vaccine is 37 percent effective in kids two to five, roughly 50 percent in those six months to two years. What is your confidence level in that performance?
PAUL BURTON: Yes. So, first of all, on safety — and we can talk about that — the safety profile we see with this vaccine, in these very youngest kids, was very reassuring. Actual rates of safety events, even lower than we see in the six-year-olds to 12-year-olds. So that’s great.
But let’s think about that number, Margaret, 37, 51 percent vaccine effectiveness. What does that really mean?
The vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic disease, symptomatic Covid disease, about 10 weeks after the second dose of vaccine. So, what it means for parents, for caregivers, is that if they give the Moderna vaccine to these little kids, they would basically cut in half the risk of that child getting symptomatic Covid.
Now, the number, 50 percent, I know is often lower than we are used to seeing with our vaccine, but it’s because this study was conducted during a time of omicron.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
PAUL BURTON: When we look at the U.K. data that was released just last week, when we looked at symptomatic disease, exactly there we see vaccine effectiveness of about 50 percent. But when we look at vaccine effectiveness against hospitalizations, that number is 89 to 95 percent. So, it’s why I think we can be very reassured and very confident in this result.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, that 50 percent benchmark set by the FDA is key because that’s usually, you know, the floor they have for — for approval. But when you look at the data, you’re doing a vaccine that’s 25 micrograms, as I understand it, in size. It’s a higher dose than Pfizer’s vaccine, which was three micrograms. It’s still being reviewed.
What are the side effects for a toddler of a dose that size?
PAUL BURTON: Yes. So, we give two 25 micrograms shots a month apart. And when we looked at the safety, as I say, the safety profile was very reassuring. Lower events of safety in this very young age group, even compared to the six-year-olds to 12-year-olds.
Common side effects are injection site pain and some fever. Really a lot of what all of us have after vaccination. But, again, reassuringly, when we look at the rates of very high fever, a fever over 104 Fahrenheit, only 0.2 percent of these little kids experience that. And, typically, in this age range, for other approved vaccines, we would see rates of maybe 1 percent. So, I think, overall, very reassuring.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You mentioned safety, and I’m glad you bring that up because I know your application for the vaccine, for that age group, 6-11, 12-17, that’s been pending before the FDA since June of 2021. So why do you feel comfortable putting your vaccine in my three-year-old or someone’s four-year-old if the FDA hasn’t approved it to be put in the body of a 12- year-old?
PAUL BURTON: Yes. Well, so, look, now we’ve submitted additional safety data to the FDA for the 12 to 18-year-olds. We’ve also just submitted our application for that six to 12-year-olds as well and now we have the data on the very youngest kids. There was a time, Margaret, that we —
MARGARET BRENNAN: So do you expect the FDA to approve it for those older age groups, is that what you’re saying?
PAUL BURTON: Yes. I mean those applications are now under active review by FDA. So they have the full spectrum of data with us. And we are, of course, approved for over — over six-year-olds in many other countries around the world where it’s being used safely and effectively to provide protection for those young kids. So I’m very hopefully that the FDA will follow — follow suit here across that full age range.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, I guess the fundamental question here is, when we talk about that benchmark of 50 percent, is — is putting a vaccine in the — in the smallest of children who don’t have any protection, right, they’re too young to even wear a mask, many of them, is just getting some protection worth it, or does it need to meet that standard 50 percent benchmark the FDA says?
PAUL BURTON: Yes. So, the 50 percent benchmark, you know, really was in a pre-omicron era. As I say, we know now that 50 percent means to cut in half your risk of symptomatic disease. I think from the antibody levels that we also saw in this study, we can expect high protection against the important thing, which is hospitalization, even death.
Omicron is not a mild disease. In kids, we see data from Hong Kong, the rates of admission of kids to pediatric intensive care units, very high. So what I think we can reassure parents, and caregivers here, is that if approved, this vaccine should be able to safely and effectively protect your kids, your youngest kids, against severe disease, hospitalization. That’s what counts.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And for adults, when do you expect a rebooted version of the vaccine to be available, a booster shot that would work against omicron, for example.
PAUL BURTON: Yes. So, look, even the spike vax, which we have now, the Moderna vaccine, does provide protection certainly against severe disease, hospitalization. People are eligible now to get boosted. I would absolutely recommend it. We’re still in this BA.2 wave of a variant sweeping now throughout the United States.
We announced a couple of weeks ago a new variant-specific booster that we’ve been tested, and we have an additional candidate, our lead candidate, in testing now that I believe is going to be even more superior.
So, Margaret, we are confident that by the fall of this year we should have large amounts of that new booster vaccine that will protect against omicron and other variants and really protect Americans and people around the world as we go into the fall of 2022.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Doctor, thank you very much.
And we will be watching closely what happens next.
We’ll be back in a moment with Dr. Deborah Birx.
Stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It’s been more than a year since we last spoke with Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator during the Trump administration, and she told us about her time in the administration, spoke candidly about mistakes that had been made, especially with the CDC. And many of those details are recounted in her new book, “Silent Invasion.”
Dr. Brix is here with us in studio.
Good morning to you, Doctor.
AMB. DEBORAH BIRX, M.D., FORMER WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR AND AUTHOR, “SILENT INVASION”: Good morning, Margaret. Happy to be here.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m glad to see you again.
I want to talk about the book, but we did see you last night at the Correspondents Dinner. We were both there as guests of CBS.
These indoor gatherings are happening across the country now. Dr. Fauci said it was too dangerous for him to attend. How do you judge risk?
DEBORAH BIRX: I have to judge it every day because, like you, I have children under five, unvaccinated grandchildren, and I have a 93-year-old that lives in our house. So I have to constantly be aware of my risk, yet I have to work.
So, I completely masked last night because my assessment was there were probably, just by odds and science, probably 15 to 20 people infected, even though everyone was tested in the morning or within 24 hours. And so I just always know and then I keep testing. So I’ll test every day for five days after an exposure. And I consider that an exposure. I tested this morning because I knew I was going to see you in person, unmasked.
And I think that’s just what we need to do. If you have vulnerable people in your household, whether it’s children or elderly, you have to continually assess your risk.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It — thank you for the guidance on that. And, as you said, I’m aware of it because of my kids.
We’re now at close to a million deaths. Infection rates are going up. Hospitalizations are going up. I think it was just about 18 percent on the week. Do you think we are done with these massive waves of infection?
DEBORAH BIRX: I like to look at the whole spectrum of the last two years. And so if you look at what we’ve been through, we went through a mini alpha variant surge in the same locations last year at this time. Then we went into that lull of May, where everybody thought it was over, and in middle of June, and then we had the predictable surge across the south.
And what you need to be looking at is global data. So I follow South Africa very closely. They’re good about testing. They’re good about sequencing and find their variants. They’re on an up slope again. Each of these surges are about four to six months apart. That tells me that natural immunity wanes enough in the general population after four to six months that a significant surge is going to occur again.
And this is what we have to be prepared for in this country. We should be preparing right now for a potential surge in the summer across the southern United States because we saw it in 2020 and we saw it in 2021.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Wow, that’s not general consensus right now. That’s a warning. You think that’s what’s coming for the south? Is it this new variant?
DEBORAH BIRX: Well, each of these surges have been a slightly different variant because, yes, our immune system wanes. Now, who is carrying the virus that participates in these surges? We are. Vaccinated individuals, as well as unvaccinated individuals. And we have to make it very clear to the American people that your protection against infection wanes. So, if you’re going to go see your grandmother or someone that has metastatic breast cancer, or someone under treatment for Hodgkin’s Disease or a family member with down syndrome, you need to test before you go. If that area is in a surge, and if you assessed your risk, like we did last night, and make sure that you’re negative.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And so what you’re seeing in South Africa, you do think is a lead indicator of what may be coming here?
DEBORAH BIRX: Correct. What has happened each time is we’ve had a summer surge across the south and a winter surge that cross — that starts in our northern plains and moves down, accelerated by Thanksgiving and the holidays of Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah. And that’s predictable.
So now we have to figure out — we have tools, better tools that we had a year ago. So, we have the tools now to enable every American to not only survive, but thrive. But that means every American has to have access to these tools. And our rural counties, those red counties that people keep talking about, they have lack of adequate health care.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
DEBORAH BIRX: Lack of primary physicians. Lack of individuals to counsel them about vaccines.
I went to Elko (ph), Nevada. They are three hours from a hospital that could take care of Covid. So, we have to be attentive to all Americans no matter where they live.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You, in your book, talk about some of these institutional issues. You’re talking about at the state level, but also at the CDC, and Health and Human Services as well.
In your book you say there is no plan b then. And to this day there is still no plan b. There is no early warning system in this country.
Why hasn’t this administration been able to fix it? Because you’re not the only person who’s said this.
DEBORAH BIRX: You know, I’m thrilled that over the last 12 months people have been giving more and more voice to it. To be frank, that’s why I wrote the book because I felt like people weren’t understanding what the issues were on the ground that were resulting in Americans not surviving.
Every American needs to be able to click on a website that shows them what is happening in their community with test positivity cases. And hospitalizations are great.
MARGARET BRENNAN: How do tests throw that off?
Sorry, I don’t mean to get — continue your thought.
DEBORAH BIRX: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Hospitalizations, that’s what the CDC says focus on. You’re saying, don’t focus on it.
DEBORAH BIRX: Well, if you wait until hospitalizations, there is so much community spread that you cannot prevent it from getting into the nursing homes, into venerable family members, because we interact with each other. And so people are interpreting that the fact that they are vaccinated, or vaccinated and boosted, that they cannot be infected, that they’re somehow invincible and they’re carrying that virus into hospital rooms, into nursing homes, and into dining room tables where their vulnerable family members sit.
And let’s be clear, not every vulnerable family member has an effective immune response either to the vaccine or the booster. And so we need to know if they’re protected or not. And so we have to be able to utilize those antibody levels in some way.
I can tell you today, if your grandmother has no antibody, don’t pretend — don’t think that there are cellular or there are other side of their immune system is going to protect them. They’re going to need something else. We have those tools now. We have depo (ph), monoclonal antibody Evusheld. There are — there are tools that we can use.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Doctor, thank you for your insights. We have to leave it there.
And we’ll be back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Next Sunday, we’ll be talking with former Attorney General Eric Holder.
That’s it for us today. Thank you all for watching FACE THE NATION, I’m Margaret Brennan.