Meet The Press Full NIH Director Interview: 'All Americans Need To Recognize, It's Up To Us' | Meet The Press
Collins, welcome to Meet the Press, and let me just ask the Basic first question that I’ve asked a number of people that are in this coronavirus task force over the last couple of weeks. Why are we doing so poorly compared to the rest of the industrialized world and combating this virus? Well good morning, Chuck and yeah? I am wearing a mask and I have worn it since I left my home to come here to our little studio at NIH. But since we’re talking and the person, the only other person in the room is at least 10 feet away I’m going to take it off for this interview. But I don’t want anybody to think that we take masks as something optional for people who want to protect themselves and people around them. Why are we doing so poorly well. It’S certainly the case that when you compare our experience with Europe, which your numbers just did, we basically did a good job in New York and New Jersey and Connecticut with that terrible crisis. That happened and took many lives which we should never sort of pass by. Without saying what a terrible tragedy that has been – and basically steps were put in place and if you look to see what’s happening now in those areas, they came down very close to zero, but meanwhile the rest of the country.
Perhaps imagining this was just a New York problem kind of went about their business.
Didn’T really pay that much attention to CDC’s recommendations about the phases necessary to open up safely and jumped over some of those hoops and people started congregating and not wearing masks and feeling like it’s over and maybe summer. It’Ll all go away, and now here we are not only with 70000 new cases almost every day, but from my perspective also quite concerning the number of hospitalizations, which is very close to being as high in the country as it was in back in April. So yeah. We got a really double down here and I hope today Chuck we can talk about things that bring us together, not things that divide us. We Americans are pretty good at rising to a crisis. We got one now right, let’s see what we can do together. Well, that’s, the question: can this be done without federal leadership? I think. Basically, we Americans are individuals and, if, given the appropriate information and if it’s not sort of confused by a lot of other conspiracy theories, we’re capable of figuring out what to do. If we want to see this current surge and it’s a real surge to turn around. As you just heard from the head of the CDC, all Americans need to recognize it’s up to us wear a mask when you’re out of your house, and that is protecting other people from you, because you might be that person.
Who’S, infected and doesn’t know it yet and is spreading virus around.
Do that social distancing thing, don’t congregate in large groups, especially not endorse and do the hand washing. We can turn this around and we don’t have to wait for some sort of serious high level edict to say so. This just makes common sense at this point. It just ought to be something we all do all right. You just reference. The CDC director, I don’t mean it to sort of nitpick on this, but the president directly contradicted it and even said. I don’t even think he’s right about that that if everybody wore a mask, how do you at all get us rowing in the same direction? If you have that high level of a contradiction well, it is bizarre that we have turned mask wearing into something political imagine. You were an alien coming to the planet Earth and looking around looking at the scientific data going for a very place to place and looking to see who’s wearing this, you would be totally astounded puzzled. Amazed, you’d wonder what is going on here. How could it be that something is basic as a public health action that we have very strong evidence can help seems to attach to people’s political party? For starters, could we just walk away from that and say this is about all of us: we’re Americans we’re pretty good at rising to a challenge, a crisis we’ve done so before in wartime.
This is not a war but it’s certain way. It is against the enemy, which is called the virus, and that virus is very sneaky and stealthy, and our best chance is for all of us to get together and do the right thing and stop fighting.
So much about the divide between different political perspectives, which is just getting in the way right. Let me ask you this: should Americans be concerned that the advice that does come out of the task force is somehow getting watered down by political pressure? Well, I’m part of the task force. I join those meetings. The vice president presides over them there’s. A very thoughtful exchange of information. Dr. Burks presides presents the latest data in terms of what’s happening across the country. We debate many things, there’s a lot of work. That goes on there about how best we can distribute resources that are needed right now, trying to figure out, for instance, how ram des aveer this drug that we know that can help people who are really sick in the hospital gets to the people who need it. That is not getting distorted in any way that basically is going forward in the actions that are decided during that taskforce. Meeting it’s no longer, of course, coming to the press room for a big press briefing, but the work of the task force goes on well. Let’S talk about the issue of testing there’s a report this morning that the White House is actually pushing back on a congressional proposal that would add more money to your budget by the way, more money to States and more up for testing and contact tracing.
Are you guys on the task force, recommending less money to States for testing and contact tracing the task force, as far as I know, has not been engaged in that particular debate about funding in this next congressional supplement, that’s under serious consideration in the Congress and there’s? Always this back and forth between White House and Congress when it comes to appropriations process and apparently the opening bid from the White House was a bit surprising, certainly for many of us who were certainly hoping to see more in the way of support.
But this is one of those things that will play out over the course of the coming days. Let’S see where it ends up. What can the federal government do right now to improve the testing lag issue? Okay, we’re getting we’re? Still you look. You could make an argument. We need to do more testing. A lot of people are making that argument, but the real problem – and I could tell you I am I’ve – had own family members – have to wait five to seven days to get to get a get. The result that becomes useless at some point if you’re asymptomatic, what do we do to fix that so good we’re getting to the science here Chuck? I like this part, so the average test delay is too long, you’re, absolutely right. It’S, a ver ajiz around the country it’s about three days but in some places it’s as long as a week and that really undercuts the value of the testing, because you do the testing to find out who’s carrying the virus and then quickly get them isolated.
So they don’t spread it around and it’s very hard to make that work when there’s a long delay built in. So what are we doing? The science of this is critical. Actually NIH is deeply engaged in an effort to try to develop an additional array of tests that can be done in what we call point of care most of the tests that are being done right now.
You have to have the swab and then you send it off to a central laboratory there’s a time there. In order to do the delivery of the sample, then they have to do the testing they’re kind of backed up it takes a while to come back. We need to do things that are more on the spot and actually there’s a number of new technologies that are coming along, that look very promising that space. We need to invest a lot of money and the government is willing to do so in scaling those up. Just this week you might know we will be sending to about seven or eight hundred nursing homes. These point of care tests, the ones that have just gotten FDA approval, so that, in a place where it clearly is very high risk people who walk in for their shift that day are gon na find out if they have the virus and they find out. In less than an hour it’s not like you have to wait, that’s the kind of thing we need more of that’s.
The kind of thing that I personally, along with many others in other parts of the government, are working on night and day to try to do a better job of this you’re right. We have to come up with a better turnaround time. Let me ask you a couple questions in the vaccine. First of all, this hacking issue that apparently, what the Russians were behind was NIH targeted and do you guys did you guys lose any key information it’s, not entirely clear to me what this was all about, how we certainly are deeply engaged in this vaccine effort, the Vaccine that’s about to have its phase three trial started in just the next ten days or so was initially designed a few hundred yards from where I’m sitting right now at NIH, and certainly we are always under cyberattacks of various sorts.
But I would say most of what we do in science we published it, we put it out there. People don’t have to go hacking to find it we’re all about transparency, so I’m, not exactly sure what serious risk is involved here. Miss Jeff, yes, but serious risk. I’M, not so sure, what’s your greater concern on vaccine the ability to distribute it or fear from the populace that the rush to a vaccine may make it unsafe. I think all of those are significant concerns, but let’s look at the positive side here Chuck. This has been an amazing trajectory that we’ve been on only in January.
Was it clear that this was a virus that might spread to the rest of the world within a day or two after getting the genome sequence of that virus? Our colleagues had started to design a vaccine which, just sixty two days later, was then being injected into the first phase. One trial participants that data, which was just published three days ago, looks extremely good that this vaccine was able to generate high levels of neutralizing antibodies and virtually everybody who got it so we’re in a good path here and we will, by the way, need as we Go into this phase of recruiting people for clinical trials need people to sign up. So can I make a little pitch to the people watching this? If you want to be part of this next phase of figuring out how these vaccines work, all you got to do is go to a website it’s, a long URL, coronavirus prevention network, all one word: dot, org, coronavirus prevention, Network org about a hundred thousand people have Already indicated their interest by registering for this, and you might then get called, especially if you’re in one of the sites, where we’re going to do the recruiting, which is going to be in the place where the virus is spreading, mostly in the south, so come on.
Y’All take part in this. We obviously need especially people who are at higher risk. The African Americans Latinos come on y’all a final question.
Dr. Collins, is anybody at the White House asked you to demote or fire dr. Koch in? If they did, would you do it? Nobody has asked me to do that and I find that concept unimaginable, and I am amused that everybody is calling me doctor, foul cheese boss, because real bosses, his wife, Christine gradient. She might have something to say about that. Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health – I appreciate you coming on. I know it’s, not an easy situation that you’re in but it’s important that the public hear from you. So thank you for doing this, sir.