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Dalio's $50M donation to NY Presbyterian to be used for vaccine distribution, racial disparities research

Dr. Steven J. Corwin, President and CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian, joins Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade with Alexis Christoforous and Brian Sozzi to discuss the a recent uptick in coronavirus cases, his outlook on when Americans will see a vaccination on the market, and a $50 million dollar investment from Dalio Philanthropies that will be used to educate and end health disparities affecting minorities.

Video Transcript

BRIAN COZZI: OK, soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo has been stricken with COVID-19. That is just crossing the wires. It ultimately underscores how challenging COVID-19 remains around the world. The J&J set back on a vaccine isn't helping soothe those concerns.

Let's bring in Dr. Steven Corwin for some perspective. He's president and CEO of New York Presbyterian. Doctor, good to speak with you again. It's been some time here. Very curious on what you're seeing in your hospitals right now.

DR. STEVEN J. CORWIN: Well, we're starting to see an uptick in New York City. So for a while there we were in quite a lull starting in June. It continued to decline through the summer months, and now we're starting to see an uptick. We hope that that surge is suppressed. It certainly does not look anything more than a mild surge at this point, but we just can't tell.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Doctor, what did you learn from the first go-around that will hopefully make another wave, if there is indeed a full-blown one, perhaps a little easier to deal with?

DR. STEVEN J. CORWIN: Well, I think we learned a number of things, Alexis. First, the supportive care for patients is much better. Secondly, we're much better prepared in terms of protective equipment. We have a 90-day supply. Third, we're much better prepared in terms of number of ICU beds and much better prepared in terms of number of ventilators.

That being said, I think we all know that the key here is not to let a level of surge get to the point where you become overwhelmed as a health system. You saw a little bit of that in the southwestern states in the summertime. You clearly saw that with us in New York in the springtime.

So the idea of how do you continue to maintain the masking, the social distancing-- quiescence in terms of some of the surge areas becomes critical. We can't get into pandemic fatigue. You know, I think that some of the things just look troublesome to me like full football stadiums and things of that nature with people not wearing masks. We're just going to have to be careful about that and try to suppress the virus when it starts to come about.

BRIAN COZZI: Doctor, I would say investors, the stock market, does in fact have pandemic fatigue. I mean, look where the market is trading. I almost can't believe it given the situation regarding COVID in the US and around the world. Help investors understand. What does a second wave exactly look like? Does it look as bad as the first wave we saw during the spring?

DR. STEVEN J. CORWIN: You know, we can't tell that, Brian, but I don't think so. I think we were overwhelmed. I think the virus was circulating in New York a number of weeks before we actually detected it. I think our detection is better. The testing is better. It's certainly not universal testing, and we still need more of that. But I think it's definitely better.

I think what you're seeing in the market is the fact that we're adapting to this, that some parts of the economy have responded well, that some businesses in some sectors of the economy are doing quite well. And obviously the S&P is a reflection of the tech industry, which is doing remarkably well during this. But you have other areas like airlines and restaurant businesses, hotels that are suffering. So I do like personally the description of a K-shaped recovery.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Doctor, you heard the news about J&J needing to temporarily halt its COVID-19 vaccine trial after one of its participants came down with a sudden illness. We see this happen during trials. This is nothing new. But what are your expectations for when we really may see a vaccine that you and I can actually go out and get?

DR. STEVEN J. CORWIN: I think we're going to start to see vaccine distribution probably sometime in the spring and then a ramp up as we get into the summer months. I think that as a previous speaker spoke about, the mRNA vaccines which have not been used before require a lot of storage at very low temperatures. So logistically that's going to be difficult. They require two doses, whereas the J&J vaccine requires one dose. The J&J vaccine can be stored in a more comfortable manner than Moderna and the Pfizer vaccines, but I think it's likely that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines will be the first ones out of the gate.

What's really important here is that people have to recognize that this vaccine distribution thing is really critical for us. Between anti-vaxxers and people in underrepresented minorities being fearful of the vaccine, we could actually exacerbate what we have now in terms of the disparate mortalities between people of color and white people in the country. And that would just further exacerbate our problem. So we really need a big education effort around the vaccine, particularly in communities of color and underserved minorities.

BRIAN COZZI: Doctor, real quick-- I have 20 seconds left. You just received a donation from billionaire hedge fund manager Ray Dalio-- $50 million. Where do you plan to use that?

DR. STEVEN J. CORWIN: Exactly where I just talked to you about. The Center for Health Justice is designed to really reduce disparities in morbidity and mortality to really make sure that we have equity in health care. And the first place we're going to look for is vaccine distribution and reducing the disparate mortalities in patients with COVID.