Bill Gates-Backed Vaccine CEO Calls on Russia to Release Data

If Russian President Vladimir Putin has found an effective COVID-19 vaccine, then the data showing its safety and effectiveness should be released, the head of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance says.

In an exclusive wide-ranging interview with Newsweek International, Dr. Seth Berkley said that he had yet to see any efficacy data showing that President Putin had a safe vaccine.

He said: "We don't have public, published information on efficacy or safety of this product.

"It may be that there's some data we don't know about but in general what's very important is that vaccines go through a well-oiled and recognized process for evaluation and safety and ultimately registration.

"My understanding from the media is that they [Russia] are starting an efficacy trial now so it hasn't been through an efficacy trial and normally that would not allow a stringent regulatory authority to approve it.

"If there is some efficacy data we don't know about, we'd love to see it."

GAVI is a public-private global health partnership that aims to increase access to immunization in poor countries, with The Gates Foundation the organization's single biggest supporter, donating $4.1m since its formation in 2000.

President Putin had announced last week that a locally developed vaccine for the COVID-19 virus that has killed over 770,000 people worldwide, had been given regulatory approval.

President Putin Vaccine COVID-19
President Putin claims that a locally developed COVID-19 vaccine has been given regulatory approval Getty

The Russian president claimed that the vaccine had gone through all the necessary safety checks and this own daughter had been given it.

He said: "After the first injection her temperature was 38 degrees, the next day 37.5, and that was it. After the second injection, her temperature went up slightly, then back to normal."

Putin hailed the development of the vaccine, which has been named Sputnik-V, as a world first.

Dr. Berkley's comments come after the World Health Organization (WHO) also called on Russia not to cut corners and follow international guidelines for vaccine production.

Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko has said that the vaccine had "proven to be highly effective and safe", calling it a big step towards "humankind's victory" over the pandemic.

Developed by Moscow's Gamaleya Institute, no public data has been released on the safety or immunity afforded by the vaccine, making it difficult for scientists to verify its effectiveness.

Governments across the world view a vaccine as the most effective means to overcome the virus, with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson describing the search for a vaccine as "the most urgent shared endeavor of our lifetimes", signing four separate agreements with companies.

In the U.S., President Trump has advocated an "America first" approach to the vaccine.

Dr. Berkley has called on countries to put self-interest aside and work together to find a global solution to what he said is a global problem.

You can read the whole Newsweek interview with Dr. Berkley here.