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CNBC Transcript: Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on CNBC's "The News with Shepard Smith" Tonight

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WHEN: TONIGHT, TUESDAY, DECEMBER 15 AT 7PM ET

WHERE: CNBC'S "THE NEWS WITH SHEPARD SMITH"

Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar tonight on CNBC's "The News with Shepard Smith."  Following is a link to video of the interview on CNBC.com: https://www.cnbc.com/video/2020/12/15/azar-people-are-waiting-too-long-to-seek-out-antibody-treatments.html.

All references must be sourced to CNBC's "The News with Shepard Smith." 

SHEP SMITH: THE HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY, ALEX AZAR, IS WITH US NOW. MR. SECRETARY, THANKS FOR BEING HERE.

ALEX AZAR: GLAD TO BE HERE, SHEP THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

SMITH: YOU HEARD MEG'S REPORTING ON ANTIBODY TREATMENTS AND HOW THEY'RE NOT BEING USED THOSE CAN BE LIFE-SAVERS, WHY AREN'T THEY BEING USED

AZAR: YEAH, SHEP, HER REPORTING WAS SPOT ON. WE HAVE A SURPLUS OF THESE MONOCLONAL ANTIBODIES, AND WHAT'S HAPPENING IS PEOPLE ARE WAITING TOO LONG TO SEEK OUT THE TREATMENTS UNTIL THEY SHOW UP AT THE HOSPITAL BY THEN, IT MAY BE TOO LATE IN ORDER TO GET THE BENEFIT OF  THESE ANTIBODY TREATMENTS THAT BEAT BACK THE SPREAD OF THE VIRUS. IN ADDITION, OUR DOCTORS NEED TO PRESCRIBE AND USE THESE PRODUCTS EARLY IN THE DISEASE PROGRESSION. SO BASICALLY IF YOU ARE OVER 65 OR AT RISK OF SERIOUS COMPLICATIONS OR HOSPITALIZATIONS BECAUSE OF CO-MORBIDITIES, WHAT HAVE YOU, AND YOU TEST POSITIVE, YOU NEED TO SEEK OUT THE LILLY OR REGENERON MONOCLONAL ANTIBODY. IT CAN DRAMATICALLY REDUCE HOSPITALIZATIONS AT A TIME WHEN OUR HOSPITALS ARE GETTING VERY CROWDED WITH PEOPLE TO COVID.

SMITH: MR. SECRETARY, I'M 56, I HAVE CO-MORBIDITIES AS SO MANY IN OUR AUDIENCE LIKELY DO IF I TEST POSITIVE WHEN CNBC TESTS ME TOMORROW, I SHOULD START TAKING THOSE RIGHT AWAY OR TALK TO MY DOCTOR ABOUT IT?

AZAR: ABSOLUTELY TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR AND SEE IF IT'S RIGHT FOR YOU. IF YOU HAVE CO-MORBIDITIES, ARE 56, AT RISK OF GETTING INTO THE HOSPITAL, YOU SHOULD GET ON THAT PRODUCT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE HERE'S THE CHALLENGE SO MANY OF US IF WE GET IT, WE START OUT FAIRLY ASYMPTOMATIC OR LIGHT SYMPTOMS AND IT'S AN INFUSION SO THERE'S A NATURAL RESISTANCE TO AN INFUSION IF YOU'RE FEELING HEALTHY.

SMITH: NOT HERE. I TEST POSITIVE TOMORROW, THAT'S MY FIRST MOVE. ANOTHER QUESTION, MR. SECRETARY. ON THE VACCINE, IT'S AMAZING TO SEE THEM OUT THERE BUT REALISTICALLY SPEAKING, WHEN WILL THERE BE ENOUGH SUPPLY FOR THE GENERAL PUBLIC ARE WE TALKING ABOUT MARCH, APRIL, JUNE, AUGUST, DO WE KNOW?

AZAR: SO I BELIEVE THAT BY THE END OF FEBRUARY, END OF MARCH, OF COURSE DEPENDING ON THE DECISIONS BY OUR GOVERNORS, BUT I BELIEVE WE'LL HAVE ENOUGH SUPPLY OUT THERE TO BE REACHING OUT INTO THE GENERAL PUBLIC FOR ADMINISTRATION AT YOUR CVSs, WALGREENS, KROGERS, NEAR THE END OF FEBRUARY INTO MARCH AND IF WE GET J & J AND ASTRAZENECA COMING IN, THEIR DATA SHOULD BE COMING IN THE BEGINNING OR MIDDLE OF JANUARY WITH FDA CONSIDERATION LATER IN THE MONTH, THAT WOULD ADVANCE THAT EVEN FURTHER WITH ADDITIONAL SUPPLIES FROM THEM.

SMITH: MORE GREAT NEWS YESTERDAY, MR. SECRETARY, PFIZER'S CEO IMPLIED THAT SOME OF THE RAW MATERIALS USED TO MAKE THEIR VACCINE ARE IN SHORT SUPPLY NOW QUESTION, WHY IN THE WORLD HASN'T THE UNITED STATES USED THE DEFENSE PRODUCTION ACT TO MAKE SURE WE HAVE THE RAW MATERIALS NECESSARY? WHY HAVEN'T WE

AZAR: SO, SHEP, I CAN ASSURE YOU THAT WE ARE WORKING WITH PFIZER ON THIS PRECISE ISSUE RIGHT NOW.

SMITH: I'M SURE, BUT I WONDER WHY IT WAS THAT WE DIDN'T SAY, ALL RIGHT, WE MUST DO THIS, DEFENSE PRODUCTION ACT

AZAR: WELL, WE ONLY KNOW -- SEE, THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PFIZER AND THE SIX OTHER MANUFACTURERS OF VACCINES THAT OPERATION WARP SPEED WORKS WITH IS THAT WITH THE OTHER MANUFACTURERS, WE'RE ACTUALLY HELPING WITH R & D AND MANUFACTURING.PFIZER, WHILE WE GUARANTEED PURCHASE OF $2 BILLION OF VACCINE AND THAT IS CRITICAL FOR THEIR ABILITY TO DEVELOP THAT VACCINE AND PUT THE CAPITAL INVESTMENT IN, THEY ARE MORE SECRETIVE WITH US ABOUT THEIR MANUFACTURING CAPACITY AND THEIR NEEDS. SO WE DON'T KNOW THEY HAVE A RAW MATERIAL PROBLEM UNTIL THEY TELL US THEY HAVE A RAW MATERIAL PROBLEM. AT THAT POINT I CAN ASSURE YOU, AS THE PRESIDENT HAS, WE WILL USE EVERY POWER OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT TO ENSURE THEY HAVE WHAT THEY NEED TO FULFILL THE CONTRACTS THAT WE NEED FOR THE UNITED STATES PEOPLE.

SMITH: GOT IT. WE ALL KNOW THEY WENT FIRST IN GREAT BRITAIN. NOW THEY CANNOT SAY HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE GOTTEN THE VACCINE,  WHICH SUGGESTS THAT THE GOVERNMENT THERE IS STRUGGLING TO KEEP TRACK OF EVERY PERSON ALONG THIS SUPPLY CHAIN. CAN YOU TELL US NOW HOW MANY AMERICANS HAVE RECEIVED THE VACCINE AT THIS POINT? AND HOW WE'LL GET THAT INFORMATION OVER TIME?

AZAR: SO IT'S A GOOD QUESTION I CAN'T TELL YOU AT THIS PRECISE MOMENT HOW MANY HAVE GOTTEN IT WE'RE JUST TWO DAYS INTO THE VACCINATION PROGRAM BUT WE DO HAVE THE I.T. SYSTEMS TO GENERATE THAT DATA AND GET THAT REPORTING. AS WE GO SEVERAL DAYS OR MAYBE A WEEK INTO THIS, WE'LL PROVIDE A DASHBOARD WITH THAT TYPE OF INFORMATION SO WE'LL KNOW EXACTLY HOW WE'RE DOING GETTING SHOTS IN ARMS. IT'S IMPORTANT INFORMATION WE LITERALLY TRACK EACH BOX GPS TEMPERATURE CONTROL, EVERY TRUCK. WE HAVE A COMMAND CENTER WITH IT SO WE'LL START DOING THAT TYPE OF REPORTING, SHEP.

SMITH: SECRETARY AZAR, BEFORE WE GO, WHILE WE WAIT FOR VACCINES, MORE AMERICANS ARE SICK, HOSPITALIZED AND DYING THAN EVER BEFORE WE ARE AMONG THE WORST IN ALL THE WORLD STATISTICALLY, THE UNITED STATES. WHAT, MR. SECRETARY, CAN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DO NOW TO SLOW THIS SPREAD SO WE MAKE IT TO THIS VACCINE?

AZAR: SO WHAT -- THE FIRST THING  THAT WE NEED TO DO IS WHAT WE TALKED ABOUT AT THE OPENING OF THE SEGMENT WHICH IS GET THOSE MONOCLONAL ANTIBODIES TO PEOPLE THAT ARE HIGH RISK TO KEEP THEM OUT OF THE HOSPITAL IN THE FIRST PLACE. WHAT WE NEED TO DO AND EUROPE HAS TO DO ALSO, BECAUSE THEY'RE FACING THE EXACT SAME EXPLOSION OF CASES, WE ALL AS INDIVIDUALS HAVE TO ACT RESPONSIBLY, WASH OUR HANDS, WATCH OUR DISTANCE, WEAR OU FACE COVERINGS, STAY OUT OF OVERCROWDED INDOOR SETTINGS LIKE OVERCROWDED BARS, OVERCROWDED RESTAURANTS.

SMITH: I DON'T WANT TO BELABOR A POLITICAL POINT, BUT THEY'RE NOT EVEN DOING ANY OF THIS AT THE WHITE HOUSE. WE'RE HEARING WORDS, BUT THE ACTIONS SPEAK VOLUMES FOR THOSE WHO FOLLOW PEOPLE IN POWER CAN YOU APPLY ANY PRESSURE TO THE WHITE HOUSE AND TO OTHER LEADERS IN WASHINGTON TO PLEASE SET A GOOD EXAMPLE, WEAR YOUR MASKS?

AZAR: SO, SHEP, I'VE ACTUALLY BEEN TO SOME OF THE WHITE HOUSE CHRISTMAS PARTIES, AND IN FACT I JUST WAS AT ONE LAST NIGHT AND THERE, IF INDIVIDUALS TOOK THEIR MASKS OFF WHEN THEY WERE NOT ACTIVELY EATING OR DRINKING, THERE WERE ACTUALLY MILITARY AIDES AND USHERS TELLING PEOPLE  TO PUT THEIR MASKS BACK ON I HAD MY MASK ON AT ALL TIMES. IF PEOPLE APPROACHED ME WITHOUT A MASK I WOULD PUSH BACK ON THEM SAYING KEEP YOUR DISTANCE, PLEASE, IF YOU DON'T HAVE YOUR MASK ON, I DON'T WANT YOU NEAR ME WE DO TRY TO SET THAT EXAMPLE. PEOPLE WERE INSTRUCTED THEY NEED TO WEAR MASKS AT THESE EVENTS. OUR ADVICE IS THE SAME IN ANY  SETTING, WEAR YOUR MASK IF YOU CAN'T KEEP YOUR DISTANCE.

SMITH: ALEX AZAR, ALL THE BEST TO YOU, THANK YOU.

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