White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci was dubious of Russia's claim to have developed an effective vaccine for the novel coronavirus that causes the flu-like respiratory illness COVID-19.
Speaking in the keynote interview for a National Geographic program "Stopping Pandemics" due to be streamed Thursday, Fauci – the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – cast doubt on Russia's announcement Tuesday about having a vaccine ready for use.
"I hope that the Russians have actually definitively proven that the vaccine is safe and effective," Fauci said during the interview. "I seriously doubt that they've done that."
"We have half a dozen or more vaccines," Fauci said. "So, if we wanted to take the chance of hurting a lot of people or giving them something that doesn't work, we could start doing this, you know, next week if we wanted to. But that's not the way it works."
Russia has been reporting this summer it was working on a vaccine, called Sputnik V after the first man-made satellite placed into orbit by the Soviet Union in 1960.
In May, the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow said researchers had begun testing of the inoculation on themselves with a first human trial of 76 subjects a month later.
However, the institute has not published any data from the human trials, nor did it release any preclinical research involving animals or experiments in laboratories.
In the United States, three companies already are conducting large-scale clinical trials of potential inoculations, Moderna, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca, with any of one of them, the companies have said, could be ready by as early as October.
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