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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Amanpour and Company.” Here’s what’s coming up.
As the battle against coronavirus ramps up around the world, former U.S. surgeon general, Boris Lushniak, warns mistakes now could have dire
And with the global economy hit hard by this pandemic, there are companies filling the void, doing well while doing the good. I speak with Amazon
senior vice president, Jay Carney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY MONACO, PRESIDENT, TUFFS UNIVERSITY: Think about ways you can help with medical supplies, contact your cities, make partnerships, give
capabilities to your local officials.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: One college president adopts a globalization for this fight. Our Walter Isaacson with Tuffs University president, Anthony Monaco.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I’m Christiane Amanpour in London.
The World Health Organization is now warning that the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating and that the United States could be next epicenter, with
New York in the eye of the storm. There are nearly 400,000 cases globally now and almost 20,000 deaths.
As Congress wrestles with a massive emergency bill, President Trump is hinting that he may soon order businesses to reopen despite dire warnings
from his public health team. Here in Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has now announced the strictest lockdown since World War II, including
banning public gatherings of more than two people and closing all shops that sell nonessential goods.
And now, India, a country of 1.3 billion people is also on total lockdown for a minimum of 21 days. That is the third of the world’s population on
some kind of lockdown. In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe together with the International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach, has finally
agreed to postpone the summer games until 2021.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHINZO ABE, JAPAN PRIME MINISTER: I proposed Mr. Bach to postpone the event for about a year. Mr. Bach said that he will 100 percent agree.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Meanwhile, there is a glimmer of hope in China where officials say locally transmitted cases have dropped to near zero over this past
week. Now, we’ll look at this over this next hour. But first, we want to turn to Dr. Boris Lushniak. He’s the former acting surgeon general of the
United States. He served as the head of the U.S. medical team fighting Ebola in Monrovia back in 2015. That was in Liberia.
Dr. Lushniak, welcome to the program.
DR. BORIS LUSHNIAK, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY SURGEON GENERAL: Great. Happy to be here. Thank you so much for having me on.
AMANPOUR: So, you are a full-blown medical expert and have tackled, you know, a pandemic before. I want to know what you make of now the dire
warnings coming out of the World Health Organization following some very, very dire warnings from the New York State governor that the United States
could be the next epicenter? What does that mean to you? What does that look like?
LUSHNIAK: Well, it’s actually a matter of high concern, obviously, here in the United States and specifically, at the University of Maryland, where
I’m now the dean of the School of Public Health. When I look at this, we certainly see what’s been happening across the world.
You know, first, it was December/January in China and we are all bracing to kind of see where this was going to spread. Obviously, it spread to other
parts of Asia, then ended up in Italy, then started spreading to other parts of Europe. And now, it’s entering North America, and the United
States in particular.
It is a full-blown pandemic, and this is what we were dreading on the one hand but also somewhat expecting when we knew about this disease coming on.
AMANPOUR: Now, we hear from New York that they expect the peak to be in about 14 days and the governor is asking for federal stockpiles of
ventilators at the very least be released to his most hardest hit state, apparently, 10 times more cases there than anywhere else in the United
The U.S. and the U.K., where I am, are considered to have been late in responding and following the example of other countries that started to get
hit before. Do you agree they were late and what are the consequences?
LUSHNIAK: Well, I think we were late on several aspects. One of which is specifically here in the United States, the issue of the testing. The
diagnostics really was late. So, right now, we’re already behind the curve.
So, even the incredible numbers and tragic numbers we’re seeing at the New York State really are not a reflection of current times, but in essence,
anywhere five to 10 days ago, right, in terms of people getting the coronavirus disease. So, right now, we are bracing for even worse numbers
coming on this week as testing and the diagnostics are more readily available. We’re going to be testing more individuals, which means the
numbers are going to shoot up.
AMANPOUR: So, you’re talking about testing. I mean, that’s one of the things that everybody has been, you know, screaming for. They want the
test. You’re sure that there are enough testing kits and facilities to do this?
LUSHNIAK: No, not within the United States. I mean, we can promise an increase of the testing equipment, the reagents to be made available. They
are greater than they were the day before, but not as many as we need. Certainly, even the protocols regarding testing are changing.
It really happened in terms of the expansion of testing from being at the federal level, that is within the CDC, can now expanding to sort of an all
hands-on deck approach including private industry being involved in this. But at the same time, we are definitely undertesting, and that’s one of the
things that are really now making us now quite a bit behind on.
The other aspect, as you talked about, being behind on is the surge capabilities of our medical care system. We are now bracing for what we’re
seeing in Italy, which is an influx of patients coming into emergency rooms, coming into the hospitals. And in essence, now taxing the medical
care system within the United States. That is another thing that’s ahead of us, I fear.
AMANPOUR: So, into this President Trump, who’s been holding a Town Hall and who said anyway over the last 24 or so hours, that, to paraphrase, he
doesn’t want the cure to be worse than the actual problem, than the disease. So, he’s saying, you know, by Easter, he would want to see the
economy up and running again and people, where they can, going back to work.
I would just like to play a little soundbite and then we’ll talk about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I’m not looking at months, I can tell you right now. We’re going to be opening up our country. You can’t
keep it closed for the next, you know — for years. OK. This is going away. You can’t do that with a country especially the number one economy anywhere
in the world by far. Number one economy in the world can’t do that. Well, it causes bigger problems than the original. That’s why I talk about the
cure being worse than the problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, you know, you have doctors standing next to her, you have all the experts, the really, really professionals in the United States
which is part of the White House team there, Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx and the others. I’m talking to you now, former acting surgeon general, what is
wrong with that statement or not?
LUSHNIAK: Well, you know, it’s that whole idea of two different forms of communications taking place simultaneously on the same stage. And that’s
one of the major problems with communications here in the United States, is they really shouldn’t be taking place on the same stage.
The president is future framed, right, future-oriented. He’s open-ended, he’s noncommittal and he’s offered suggestions, right. He speculates about
matters. Around him are the public health experts. Their timeframe is immediate, right. They talk about the risk to health, about protective
measures, about epidemiology, about data and confirmed facts.
And I think what we’re seeing when see these press conferences occur is both those scenarios meshing. And it, in fact, leads to a problem which
creates confusion, right. In reality, what do we know about the timeframe? I can only look back in time, right.
This is a brand-new virus. We have never seen it as humankind. So, this is a very unique situation. And I can only learn about what I’ve seen in the
past. And what I have seen in the past and what’s gone on in China.
As you mentioned earlier, the timeframe roughly is 12 weeks or so since the first case to now, right. And what we’re seeing is the beginning, the
beginning of a downturn in China. So, when I look at reality, right, I look at measures that need to be taken, at best I’m thinking about 12 weeks in
the United States and perhaps throughout different countries after the moment that they get their first cases until we have the beginning of a
Now, the beginning of the downturn is not the end of the problem. That — at the downturn point, we actually, at times, have to be more vigilant. It
will be interesting to see what happened in China as they loosen up some of their restrictions in terms of travel to see whether we get another bump in
terms of the number of individuals involved in COVID-19.
AMANPOUR: Very quickly about this timetable that the president seems to be saying, 15 days. I mean, that’s practically Easter, as he just said again
today. But how can you do that if you don’t have, what you’ve just said, and that’s testing. I mean, surely the only way to release people back into
the environment, so to speak, is to know they’re clear.
LUSHNIAK: Right. I mean, in essence, we have, again, look at what we know about COVID-19. So, first of all, the majority of cases, and this needs to
be stressed. The majority of cases are still mild cases. 80 percent or so can actually have the infection, have some symptoms, may still be fully
functioning in the home away from people, we hope, but in essence, not severely ill.
What we’re really looking at now are the 20 percent or so, looking at the data that came in initially from China of the individuals who have to, for
example, be hospitalized. And so, therefore, what we’re really seeing here is that in a 15-day timeframe, right, it’s a matter of not only giving an
all clear during that timeframe, but in essence, making sure that those 20 percent are taken care of appropriately.
And ultimately, that they do have a sense of resolution of their infection. And for the 80 percent who are sitting at home and self-convalescing, if
you will, who, therefore, don’t come out in public too early before their cases are resolved. And in essence, you absolutely hit the nail on the
head. Testing is going to be a key component of this for me to know as a physician, when is there an all clear for a specific patient.
Now, I’ve developed a whole model situation for that. And in essence is, you really have to rely on testing to a large extent.
AMANPOUR: So, I want to take two different issues from around the world. So, Argentina, we’re getting reports that, you know, they have instituted
some very, you know, significant lockdowns even though they don’t have many cases, and they’ve noticed a little bit of a drop in cases since this
lockdown. So, they’ve really got out, perhaps, ahead of it because it hasn’t struck Latin America the way it has struck the Northern Hemisphere.
On the other hand, here, before the announcement in Britain of a lockdown, which came down overnight, there was, a week ago, the idea that we could
have this herd immunity that somehow even without vaccinating a population they could somehow let this virus out play itself out and immunize the
herd, so to speak. Is that — was that smart do that, from a medical perspective?
LUSHNIAK: Again, oftentimes that term herd immunity is utilized when we talk about immunizations, right. It’s the reaction of people who are
getting vaccinated, right, how get the immunizations and the reaction of making sure their immune systems are able to fight future diseases. And so,
therefore, we protect people, we protect the herd by making sure a certain percent of individuals are, in fact, immunized.
What we don’t know — and, again, it goes back to this very unique and time and place regarding a brand-new virus that we’ve never seen before, is
really what is the immunity that develops from COVID-19. You know, we’re getting some basic information. But in essence, right now, I don’t even
know when the antibodies are forming, right. Are they potentially protecting me from a second recurrence of the disease? How long is that
last, in terms of that immunity, if, in fact, it does exist?
And so, when we look at the coronaviruses, there’s various sort of models out there kind of saying, well, you know, as you know, coronaviruses, some
of them cause the common cold. What we know, we don’t have life-long immunity to the common cold. We may have a short-term immunity. So, relying
on immunity alone as a public health measure is not, is not, I repeat, not the correct approach. You really have to rely on these other measures,
which, in essence, I realize, are very 19th or 20th century in their models.
People now expect that we have the pills that we can give out, that we have the vaccines available. But in essence, we’re going back to 1918, 1919, the
Spanish flu, and the recommendations from public health, which is, in essence, stay away from each other. It’s transmitted from me to you. If
I’m, in fact, a carrier, you can get it provided that we are close to each other and provided that I’m not taking these other public health measures
into consideration. So, we have to keep people apart at this early state.
AMANPOUR: And Dr. Lushniak, I wonder what you make of this other information that’s coming out of Italy. So, at the beginning, the World
Health Organization measured the number of death cases there versus the number of confirmed cases.
Now, Italian officers, the Civil Protection Agency, is saying t there could be 10 times the number of infections, just with people not showing symptoms
or not having been tested, et cetera, which would bring the death rate down to 0.9 percent as opposed to 9 percent. Just talk to me about that.
LUSHNIAK: Yes. It’s early on in this brand-new pandemic for us. So, the initial numbers that come out with any brand-new disease, any epidemic, is
what we would call a crude case fatality rate. And so, the number crude — or the term crude is critical here. That means it’s an estimate.
The best I can do is to say, and this simple math, there’s a numerator, which is how many people have died as a result of the disease, always
questionable, am I actually diagnosing those individuals and their cause of death is — are in fact — is in fact accurate, over the number of people
with the disease who have been diagnosed.
What we see is obviously a very crude rate, right. It’s a simple number that the W.H.O has been putting out, the Chinese have been putting up,
which is, here’s how many people we think have died of the disease, here’s how many people we think have had it.
You’re absolutely right. It goes back to some of our testing dilemmas, right, here in the United States, is the bottom number, the denominator,
right, which includes everybody with the disease. If I have a whole lot of people who, for example, are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms and aren’t
tested, well, that number will shoot up. In which case, if I’m confident that my number of deaths are accurate, is going to bring down this case
fatality rate. Oftentimes times we don’t get an accurate case fatality rate until after an epidemic is over.
AMANPOUR: It’s extraordinary. So, so interesting and so urgent, all of this. Dr. Lushniak, thank you so much for joining us.
And I just want to repeat what the chairman of the joints chief of the United States have said, that the United States may not get through this
virus crisis until late probably late May, June or maybe even July. It could even be as late as July.
Meantime, talking about Italy and being the hardest hit for a long time now in Europe, one small town in the north did eradicate coronavirus in under
14 days, by, as we’ve just been talking, testing all 3,000 residents and quarantining them effectively. This approach, unfortunately, is not
happening in many countries where the spread of this pandemic is still rising and health care professionals across Europe continue to work around
the clock to keep people safe.
Isa Soares along with other correspondents looks at the toll this sacrifice is having on their health.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We’ve had doctors tell us that they feel like lambs to the slaughter, that they feel like cannon fodder.
ISA SOARES: Across Europe, doctors and nurses are on the frontlines battling the coronavirus and a worrying
statistic is emerging. The number of medical workers themselves who have become infected.
In China, just under 4 percent of the cases reported through February 11th were health care workers. In Spain, it’s over 10 percent. And Italy is not
far behind. Here in the U.K., medical workers are begging for cooperation from the general public.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to stay healthy so we can help you. You can help save our lives. Stay at home.
SOARES: Nearly 4,000 national health service workers penned an article expressing concern that they don’t have adequate protection. The NHS says
it’s stepping up deliveries of vital supplies. But it is in Italy where the crisis has been most acute.
BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Here in Italy, coronavirus took hold in Europe. Many in the medical community were caught off guest by just how
quickly and tenaciously the virus took hold.
SOARES: More than 20 Italian doctors have now died. Among them was Dr. Roberto Stella.
DR. MICHELE LEONI: Roberto Stella was a friend of mine. Roberto Stella was a great enthusiastic doctor.
SOARES: Michele Leoni says he hopes his friend is remembered as someone who gave back, who started a program for high school students to learn
Dr. Angelo Pan is the head of infectious disease medicine at a hospital in Cremona.
DR. ANGELO PAN, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST: Because even a small error can give you an infection and then you have to hope not to get any serious
problem. It is quite scary, yes.
SOARES: Dr. Pan says his hospital is well supplied. The pandemic came so quickly, though, that he did not have time to train his colleagues in an
infectious protocol. Patients are now being treated throughout the hospital.
PAN: Now, I am taking care of the patients in the orthopedic wards. They are not used to managing patients that have transmittable viral infections.
I’m scared about the outbreak. I hope I do not die before the outbreak ends up.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The crisis hit Spain later than Italy but the number of cases here has skyrocketed. One of the big problems we’re
seeing in hospitals like this one is lack of protective equipment.
The nursing union has even created an instructional video on how to fashion a waterproof gown out of garbage bags. She explains how to fold and tape
the bag just so it provides protection and fits.
Do you feel safe at work?
EDUARDO FERNANDEZ, SPANISH ICU NURSE (through translator): No, you don’t feel completely safe, he says. You don’t stop and think about it or we
wouldn’t go in to see the patients, but we have to.
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: A lack of personal protective equipment is also a serious problem here in France where the government
said to use some of the most stringent quarantine protocols in Europe.
The first French doctor died this past week. And already now, at least four medical workers have died. I spoke with a lawyer who represents doctors
suing the French government over the lack of equipment and masks in particular. French authorities have now order 250 million of them. But one
of the doctors suing the government says it is far too late. He says authorities here are guilty of incompetence. The French government tell CNN
they have no comment on the lawsuit.
DR. LUDOVICO TORO, CO-FOUNDER, C19 HEALTH WORKERS GROUP (through translator): If this lawsuit had arrived in France, then OK, we would have
been unprepared and wouldn’t know how it works. But we watched China for three months and Italy for15 days. How could they have thought it was going
to be different here. And the proof is that today, we have exactly the same figures in terms of mortality.
SOARES: As the number of cases in Europe continue to spike, it is these doctors and nurses who are selflessly putting their health as well as their
lives on the line so that we can survive.
Isa Soares, London.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And now, back in the United States in his press conference today, the New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, said the state has 10 times the
number of coronavirus cases as California, which is the next worse hit. And he laid out one of the most critical challenges to the American supply
chain, the massive demand for ventilators, highly specialized medical technology that means the difference between life and death for so many
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): This is a dramatic increase in the number of ventilators that you need. We have been working around the clock scouring
the globe. We’ve procured about 7,000 ventilators. We need, at a minimum, an additional 30,000 ventilators. You cannot buy them. You cannot find
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, Governor Cuomo is calling on federal stockpiles to be released to his worst hit state before the expected peak there in 14 days.
Now, despite or perhaps because of the logistical challenges facing the economy now, one American company is thriving. Amazon is raising wages and
bringing on 100,000 new employees. Jay Carney is the senior vice president of corporate affairs there and he’s former press secretary to the Obama
White House, joining me now from Washington.
Jay Carney, welcome to the program.
JAY CARNEY, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF GLOBAL CORPORATE AFFAIRS, AMAZON: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: I mean, you know, yes. You are filling in where so many parts of the economy can’t reach, but I just want to ask you because clearly your
deliveries and demand is so far up. Are you able to — are you transporting some of what the governor said that he needs, like ventilators and things?
I mean, is there any of that being transported and delivered by Amazon now?
CARNEY: Well, we are absolutely working with both state and local officials, as well as the federal government here in the United States on
getting medical supplies, household goods and other things to the customers and patients who need it most.
An example that we’ve seen is with masks that are in such high demand right now and almost impossible to get, we, you wouldn’t be surprised to know,
have put in a purchase orders for many, many masks for our employees as well as our customers. And most are being repurposed to health care workers
rather than coming through our system.
Once they do begin to come through our system, we’ll get them to our customers and our employees as soon as we can. We’re also working in
Washington State, our headquarters in Seattle with local authorities there and with the Gates Foundation to get delivery of home testing kits to
potential COVID-19 sufferers. And we’re learning — you know, we’re learning as we go, Christiane, like everyone.
We’re having daily meetings of our leadership to brainstorm about what can we do to protect our customers so that they can deliver the goods that our
— you know, protect our employees so they can deliver the goods that our customers need, ways that we can help with the W.H.O., the CDC, with the
administration here in Washington as well as with governments elsewhere in the world where we do business.
AMANPOUR: So, I mean, you brought up protecting your employees. And as you know, it’s obviously difficult to do that. Everybody is exposed. So, a
number of employees have complained that there’s not enough health protections in place. A number have complained that there have been
outbreak of infections in various Amazon locations and yet, they’re not closed.
And as you obviously know because you work in this area, you have four U.S. senators who have written to the boss, Jeff Bezos, about their concern. Let
me just read it, we are concerned by reports that managers at Amazon’s warehouses continue to hold standup staff meetings before every shirt.
Meetings that result I dozens of staff crowded together in rooms. We are also concerned by reports that hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes are in
short supply at Amazon warehouses. And that some Amazon warehouses are not receiving additional cleaning. Perhaps most concerned with Amazon’s
stringent use of rate-based write-ups, which are currently preventing warehouse employees from practicing good sanitary habits.
Answer that, obviously, because these are on the front lines, these employees.
CARNEY: Sure. Well, they are and I just have to say, the letter is disappointing because there’s almost no truth to some of the accusations
they made. We have gone to extreme measures to ensure that our facilities, where our fulfillment center employees are working are cleaned regularly,
deep cleaned regularly. We’ve instituted practices to prevent congregation. We’re supplying everyone with wipes and hand sanitizer.
We have the challenge that I mentioned earlier of acquiring masks, but we are working diligently to get as many masks as we can while, of course,
prioritizing delivery to health care workers.
So, we — you know, I think we are doing extraordinary things. Amazon workers the country and the world are doing extraordinary things to ensure
the safety of our employees while delivering essential goods to millions and millions of people around the world, including household staples,
including medical supplies, toiletries and the like that are otherwise are very hard to come by because, you know, some people are ordered by
governments to shelter in place, to stay at home and they rely very heavily on a delivery service like Amazon to get what they need.
AMANPOUR: And what about — you know, we just said that you — you’re employing 100,000 new employees. I mean, clearly, there’s a massive demand
as the rest of the retail sector, you know, grinds to a halt. What about price gouging? We’ve heard all sorts of, you know, stories of unscrupulous
people gauging prices. I think you’ve taken steps to counter that.
CARNEY: We have. We’re absolutely concerned about this and any price gouging is intolerable. As you know, Christiane, our Amazon stores are not
just our own inventory, but represent goods sold by third-party sellers. In most cases, well about 55 percent of what you see if from third-party
sellers. And when we catch a third-party seller price gouging, we suspend that seller’s account. We’ve suspended over or nearly 3,900 accounts in the
United States alone, when we’ve caught price gouging. And we’re working with law enforcement officials, the state attorneys general as well as with
the United States Justice Department to refer cases of price gouging, the most egregious cases for prosecution.
AMANPOUR: Let me — just to ask you another question about public health. Because apparently, there’s an article in the Lancet, the medical journal,
which found that this virus, COVID-19, can actually linger on cardboard for 24 hours, up to three days on plastic and stainless steel. And, of course,
again, you know, with millions of your packages going around the world, that potentially is a hazard. What can you do to limit that?
CARNEY: Well, I’ve been asked this before and what I can say is that two things. One, there has yet to be a case as far as I understand it according
to the W.H.O. and the CDC of transmission from a package of the COVID-19 virus.
However, customers should take appropriate measures if they are concerned about the possible transmission of the virus. So, they should wipe down
with a sanitizer the packages they received, if they feel that’s necessary. They should perhaps place them in a separate room or a separate area for a
matter of time based on the article that you’ve mentioned to allow any lingering virus to die. We certainly would understand if customers were to
do that because, like everyone, they are and we are taking every precaution we can based on the evidence we have.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you about the slightly bigger picture, the stimulus bill. As you know, it’s been under a lot of wrangling and the
Democrats are concerned that the administration could have hundred billion of more dollars to use without accountability or to farm out where it might
Now, obviously, the Trump administration and Amazon have been in some tweet wars and conflict with Trump and Jeff Bezos, and you lost out on a $10
million contract with the Pentagon last year. And you’ve taken, you know, the administration to court over it.
You know, that might be OK in normal times. But in these terrible emergency times, what are your biggest worries about the stimulus, about all of this
money that is being proposed?
CARNEY: Well, first and foremost, let me just say that notwithstanding some of the issue you mentioned, we are working very closely with the White
House and other agencies within the American administration to do everything we can to provide services and data and, you know, technological
know-how to help in the fight against COVID-19.
So, we’ve been engaged in conversations. Jeff Bezos is the CEO and founder of Amazon, was on a call with President Trump last week where President
Trump praised Amazon for our efforts to deliver services and products to millions and millions of Americans. And also, the — over the fact that
we’re ramping up or hiring and raising our pay at a time when so many businesses are forced to shut their doors and lay workers off.
So, there’s that.
On the broader question, look, I — you are right. I’m a veteran of these kinds of battles. I think that we don’t take a position at Amazon on which
side is right in the current dispute over the stimulus package.
We think do that action is — urgent action is necessary to ensure that the right supplies get to our health care workers around the country, and that
the proper stimulus is provided to the economy.
AMANPOUR: Jay Carney, thank you so much, vice president of Amazon.
And like Amazon, streaming devices, Netflix, YouTube, and the other, they are actually doing quite well, the tech industry, at the moment.
So, turning now to today’s big sports news, after days and days of will they or won’t they, the Summer Olympics have now been postponed until 2021.
The International Olympic Committee had been facing mounting pressure to do this.
For the very latest now, I’m joined by longtime IOC member Dick Pound from Montreal in Canada, and by the greatest marathon runner in the world, Eliud
Kipchoge from Kenya, who was due to defend his Olympic marathon title this year.
Let me start with you, Mr. Kipchoge, because what you do inspires so many, many people. And let us just remind everybody that you did do the record
marathon in two hours, under two hours.
Just tell me what this means to you that these Games have been postponed.
ELIUD KIPCHOGE, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL WINNER: It’s certainly disappointing.
But many athletes have been preparing. Personally, I have been preparing for a very long time to participate in Tokyo Olympics.
(INAUDIBLE) support what IOC and Japanese Federation have decided. First (INAUDIBLE) and I’m happy that they consider the health as number one
priority as far as athletics is concerned and all sport.
AMANPOUR: And, Eliud, this disease has not yet struck your continent, thank God, the way it’s struck the Northern Hemisphere. It might do.
But how are you adapting? How are you, your family, your community in Kenya dealing with this right now?
KIPCHOGE: It’s really hard.
(INAUDIBLE) is telling everybody to stay at home, to stay indoors. Personally, I’m posting some messages encouraging everybody to stay at
home, avoid big groups, and not actually mingle, try to wash your hands every now and then, and not to (INAUDIBLE) that they will stay away and
stay at home in order to prevent this COVID-19.
AMANPOUR: Yes, we will be back to you in a moment about sports, but we’re just showing that public service announcement that you’re talking about.
I’d like to move on quickly to Dick Pound.
You are the cold face of all of this. What went into that decision? Was it the right decision?
DICK POUND, INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE MEMBER: I think it was the right decision, in fact, probably the only sensible decision in the
We didn’t want to cancel the Games. But we also were beginning to realize, on the basis of the information provided by the World Health Organization,
that July 24 of this year was just not going to be possible, and that we were going to have to think of postponement.
The Japanese authorities came to roughly the same conclusion. And, today, the respective presidents of the government and the IOC agreed that there
should be a postponement.
The broad lines of that will have to be worked out, but, most likely, we’re looking at a delay of about a year, and it’s having Games in July-August of
AMANPOUR: This — many people say this decision should have come much earlier. Do you think so?
I mean, certainly, Canada pretty much said, well, you can do what you want, but we’re not sending our athletes. It was one of the first countries to
POUND: Well, it actually wasn’t.
But I would say, the Canadian decision and the ones that followed that were made easier by the fact that, on Sunday, the IOC sent out two releases, one
addressed generally to athletes and another to the general public, saying, we don’t favor cancellation. It doesn’t look like it’s going to be possible
to stick to the original schedule.
So, that put postponement in the fore. And I think, at that time, the information from the World Health Organization showed a dangerously steep
curve in the number of cases, and that it’s just not going to be possible to contain this probably before the end of the year, and that the public
health considerations for everybody, athletes, spectators, and everyone involved, were such that they had to take the first priority.
I mean, this is a — this is a pandemic that has enormous tragic potential, if it’s not contained very quickly. And we didn’t want to add to the
AMANPOUR: And, Eliud Kipchoge, what does it mean for you, as a finely tuned machine?
I mean, you guys have a massively full schedule or year of — and year after year of different athletic events. And you have to train, and you
have to time yourself, and you have to do it all according to a very precise schedule physiologically and psychologically, I guess, as well.
Just tell me what it’s like to have to adjust something so major as the Olympic Games.
KIPCHOGE: Oh, it’s really — it destabilizes everything as far as sport is concerned.
We know we have been actually scheduled to schedule (INAUDIBLE) marathon for Olympic Games. I only noticed that the this thing, COVID-19,
destabilized the whole world. The world is on a crossroad.
And we need to accept. We need to actually support our leadership in the whole world, all the organization, U.N., all governments, athletics
organizations, in order to beat this COVID-19.
It’s really — it’s sad for all the athletes who have been actually day and night training for the Olympic Games. I know most of the youth actually
wants to show their careers to the whole world. Olympic Games is an event whereby — important thing is to persevere.
And the second thing to actually hunt for the medal. I only say it’s really a very good Games whereby you can actually put in your (INAUDIBLE) by
saying — but spirit in Olympics, but it — most careers have been shattered.
But we need to accept it. This is the world. It affects all the world. It affects everybody, all walks of life, from economy, from all sorts of
businesses, sports and everything.
So, I urge all my colleagues to actually accept, still train hard. Next year, actually, it will come back in a big way, and (AUDIO GAP) yes.
AMANPOUR: It’s very moving to hear you say so many careers may be shattered. I think that’s what you said.
Are you — I know you say you’re urging your colleagues to keep training. Can you train? And what about the London Marathon, which has also been —
which has also been canceled? And you have won it many, many times. And you were going to defend again.
KIPCHOGE: Well, it’s unfortunate that the London Marathon was pushed to 4th October later in the year.
And I and my (INAUDIBLE) athletes have been training forever to make sure that (INAUDIBLE) could race in the streets of London.
But all I know that it is — you know, in this world, anything might happen. And we need to accept and move on. We need to see the world as a
good factor. And it will make us all move in a good way.
AMANPOUR: You’re — obviously, you’re really well known for all the records you have broken, but that marathon that you did in under two hours
really just swept the world and swept everybody’s imagination.
How hard was that, not just to achieve, but to get ready to do it? Describe some of the extreme measures you went to. I think you race for — you
practiced in very, very high altitude. Tell me how you trained to do that.
KIPCHOGE: Oh, it was really hard.
It took a lot of time to train, five to six months. But all I know is that it took a lot of energy mentally, and even physically, although I was
really physically fit. But above all is that it took a lot of energy in my mind.
And it was really a different race, whereby I needed to run against the thinkable.
KIPCHOGE: Everybody in the world was actually skeptical that a human being can run under two hours.
KIPCHOGE: But all I know is that I trust what I have been trained. I trusted the management. I trust their coaching. I trust everybody. The
whole team surrounded me.
And I tell them, let us go and manage it. And that’s why I pass a very positive message to the whole world.
AMANPOUR: Yes, it did, indeed.
AMANPOUR: I mean, it’s kind of like the Olympic spirit.
Let me just finally turn to Dick Pound again.
How difficult was it for Tokyo to just do this, because they have invested so much? They had it canceled in 1940 because of the war. And, Dick Pound,
they have so much infrastructure, so much rising on it — riding on it, so many actual buildings, the Olympic Village and everything.
Take us behind the scenes of the calamity for Tokyo.
POUND: Well, they certainly have a huge investment in this project. And they worked very diligently for the last decade on getting into position to
And I know they’re immensely disappointed. But they do recognize the importance of public health and getting control of this COVID virus. So,
they were reluctant, of course, to concede having to postpone it, but also understand that that’s the best decision.
They appreciate the support from the IOC and the sports world to having a postponement and continuing on with the Games next year. And I think their
prime minister said it right. This is — will be an opportunity for a complete Olympics coming out of a terrible, terrible pandemic.
POUND: And it will speak to the resilience of the human condition.
AMANPOUR: Well, there you go.
All right, Dick Pound, Eliud Kipchoge, thank you so much, indeed, for joining us.
And just again to mention, the first time the Olympics have been postponed, canceled in peacetime.
Across the globe, though, schools and universities have also been forced to shut. They are doing so to protect students and teachers and slow the
spread of coronavirus. But could they play a vital role in the solution?
Tufts University, just outside Boston, Massachusetts, has transformed parts of its campus into a military-style hospital. And students are also now
using their skills to support the health care system.
Anthony Monaco is president of Tufts. And he spoke to Walter Isaacson via Zoom.
WALTER ISAACSON: President tony Monaco, thank you for joining us.
ANTHONY MONACO, PRESIDENT, TUFTS UNIVERSITY: Pleasure to be here, Walter.
ISAACSON: What are universities like yours doing in this crisis?
MONACO: Walter, we have been having conversations with our hospitals about their needs, which are in several different areas.
We have been able to help them now with lab supplies, masks, helping to repair old masks, sending ventilators from our veterinary hospital. In
addition, they are very concerned about the beds availability, especially if there’s a surge. And they have asked us to think about our campuses as
alternative treatment centers, which could house emergency personnel, low- level patients that are in-patients currently that are having a bottleneck getting people out.
We’re looking at all kinds of possibilities. We have isolation units on campus because we had an outbreak. So we are organized to be able to
isolate any cases that occur.
ISAACSON: You have written an op-ed about additional steps that should be taken. Walk us through those, please.
MONACO: Oh, well, Walter, first, if you’re going to change your campus into a military-style hospital, you have to have military logistics and
We were very lucky to have that at our Fletcher School. And those military fellows and faculty there have stepped up in the most amazing way, can-do
attitude, giving us advice, not making decisions, relying on our expertise, and they have been helping, as I said, our hospitals and cities.
Secondly, you need to inventory all your rooms for single-use bathroom isolation units, which ones are on the periphery, which ones are near
Third, think about the future as a testing center, as well as overrun facilities for hospitals. Testing is very important. Think about ways you
can help with medical supplies, contact your cities, make partnerships, give your capabilities to your local officials in some kind of incident
ISAACSON: Would you be willing to allow patients to live in the dorms?
One of the things that has been found in China is, 75 to 80 percent of transmission is through family units. If the case arises that a relatively
mild case is in a family with an elderly, vulnerable person or immunosuppressed person, we could help isolate them if they have nowhere
else to go.
It’s an effective intervention strategy, and we’re willing to adopt it.
ISAACSON: What about helping to do things like make masks? Are your students trying to pitch in, those who are still there?
MONACO: Yes, Tufts Medical Center has given a donation of 6,000 N95 masks, but they’re very old. And every time they put them on, the elastic broke.
So, we quickly organized some of our engineering students to work with MIT and Harvard students. They came up with a prototype. And they’re already
starting today to repair these masks, which really significantly increases the capacity of the medical center.
ISAACSON: You’re a distinguished geneticist. You helped discover the gene that causes some forms of muscular dystrophy.
To what extent do you think genetic tools someday will be able to be the way we fight off viruses?
MONACO: I don’t think genetics in this particular case has got that much to do with it.
But this is about vaccination and prevention, and being ready the next time and being prepared. Right now, the only tools we have are testing and
isolation. We need to focus on that, and we need to think about, what is going to happen in one month’s time, when the hospitals are overrun, the
alternative treatment centers are full?
We need a scalable way to monitor fevers at a distance and get mobile units to those that are most vulnerable, so we can help them, and they don’t
ISAACSON: So, describe to me how you are setting up on the Tufts campus what is really a satellite medical center.
MONACO: We have looked at our complete building stock in our dining, halls and we have gotten military logistics and communications help from our
Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
They have been advising us, Tufts Medical Center, and our cities of Medford and Somerville local to our campus. We have identified all units that have
single-use bathrooms that can be used for isolation.
We have identified units that could house nurses, health care workers, those that don’t want to go back to their families, if they’re at increased
risk, and perhaps infect vulnerable members.
We’re going to take low-level medical patients that need things like wound care, post-operative P.T., things that are not going to require a full
That’s in conversations, but we are preparing for that.
ISAACSON: And are you working in collaboration with Harvard, MIT, and the hospital systems, which I think is probably the largest hospital systems
per capita in the country in the Boston-Cambridge metro area?
MONACO: Yes, they’re all communicating at the hospital level. And we have been in communications at the university level. They’re all reaching out to
particularly their teaching-affiliated hospitals, where they know each other well.
And they’re listening, what are your needs, how can we help?
ISAACSON: You have had a student who tested positive.
First of all, how is the student? How are the people there?
MONACO: The student is fully recovered. He did expose a large number of students. We traced them all. We isolated all of them in quarantine in
whatever they were. And, right now, they all seem to be fine. I’m just getting reports.
But we haven’t had a major outbreak within the student body, luckily.
ISAACSON: Your international students, are they frustrated by having been given very little notice and having trouble to manage this crisis?
MONACO: Of course they’re disappointed, Walter, but, then again, we have received multiple e-mails from their parents thanking us for allowing them
to stay, so grateful that they were able to stay put, try to be safe and not take that dangerous trip back to a level three country.
So, most of it has been about their needs currently on campus, but a lot of gratitude from parents that we were able to accommodate.
ISAACSON: What have you done about poorer students, for whom it’d be difficult to go home or maybe not even that safe to go home? Do you allow
them to stay on campus?
MONACO: If they have circumstances which was very reviewed by the Student Affairs Office that didn’t have a home destination or those types of
situations, yes, some of those were permitted to stay.
And we do still have a lot of students living off-campus in houses that are not owned by the university. And so we have been communicating with them as
We have offered on travel costs, anything we can do. There’s been a very good fund-raising effort through the students to help. And we have
organized that through our Advancement Office. And there are funds available and assistance when students need it.
ISAACSON: Is there anything you did that you wish had been done slightly differently, and other universities might learn from your mistake?
I’m sorry, not that I have made any mistakes, but when we found out that we had a covert positive student, I made two phone calls. One was to get the
health authority aware, follow their protocols for tracing, et cetera.
The second was to former allied commander of NATO Jim Stavridis, former dean of the Fletcher School, asking him for military logistics help, which
he pointed me to.
That was an important step so that, right from the beginning, we were not making missteps that we would regret when the number of patients that we’re
trying to help increases exponentially.
ISAACSON: I’m teaching my class at Tulane through this method, through Zoom. It’s something that we in the education industry have talked about
for a decade, which is online classes. But we never really did quite as much as we thought we would.
Do you think that this situation is going to help increase the use and blending in of online classes and universities?
MONACO: Yes, out of the necessity of the situation, we are running all of our courses for the rest of the semester, many using Zoom and Canvas. It’s
a wonderful technology. I certainly appreciate it how well it’s going to be suited to our needs.
I do think you’re right that it’s going to change how colleges and universities think in the future. And the fall semester is at risk, given
how long this might last. And we’re all planning that we have to consider at least continuing this type of distance learning. We hope not, but we are
ISAACSON: Do you think we have to balance the need to isolate to control this disease vs. the need of people who are students just to get on with
their lives and get back to campus?
Would you push back on a fall closure?
MONACO: I think there’s two needs here. Obviously, as an academic institution, our primary mission is to educate our students and to do so in
this time of crisis.
At the same time, this is a disaster of very large proportion. You have seen the scenes from Italy. It’s going to happen here unless we organize
ourselves to help the hospitals.
I have said it before. This is a Dunkirk moment for our country. And if we don’t get out the boats to get our hospitals across the channel, we’re
going to have a huge surge which they can’t manage, and we’re not going to have anywhere for people to go.
We’re waiting for the governor to give us the signal. He knows our capacities. I can’t believe I’m turning this beautiful campus into a
military-style hospital, but that’s what we need to do to help our hospitals when they get overrun. And it will happen.
ISAACSON: What are you hearing from your students about what they need?
MONACO: Our students are worried about a lot of things, getting the online working, reimbursements for the room and board that they’re not using while
they’re here, worried about their friends.
Just the sudden change of all this and the sudden uprooting from friends, I think, was the most difficult thing for them. And those that have to self-
isolate, it’s lonely in self-isolation. We may be physically isolated, but we’re not socially isolated.
And I hope people will reach out to their friends and help them through this using digital means.
ISAACSON: Generations are sometimes shaped by things that happen when they were it college, whether it was the Greatest Generation that had to go off
to World War II, or Vietnam generation, or here in New Orleans, the Katrina generation. And people came back differently.
Do you think this will somehow imprint on an entire generation of college students a new way of looking at the world?
MONACO: Well, Walter, this is really a war. This is the equivalent of any world war that we had with suffering that is going to be all over the news.
And this generation is going to witness that. They’re getting a lot of help. There’s increased mental health disorders in this generation, in any
case, so you can imagine how difficult it’s going to be for them to watch the suffering that may happen live on television.
I hope they get the help they need. We certainly will be there for them. But it’s going to be a defining moment for this country and the world. And
I hope that everyone can step up and do their part.
ISAACSON: Most college graduates remember their graduation. For this senior class, how are you going to make it up?
MONACO: Well, we hope to do something which is virtual, and make it as engaging as possible, but most universities are having to cancel any kind
of physical commencement.
Hopefully, we will be able to work with them to make it memorable. But, of course, it’s a disappointment. This is a time-honored tradition. You were
our commencement speaker and H.D. recipient in 2004. You know how important those events are.
We will try to do our best to make it meaningful for our students and their families.
ISAACSON: President Monica, thank you for being with us.
MONACO: Pleasure, Walter.
AMANPOUR: And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can follow me an the show on Twitter. Thank you for watching “Amanpour and Company” on PBs. We leave you with this virtual performance by London’s Camden Voices Choir, who don’t let self-isolation stop them from singing this beautiful rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors.”