Fauci Doubts Russia Has Proven Its Coronavirus Vaccine Is Safe and Effective

Top infectious disease expert and White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci has said he doubts Russia has shown its vaccine to be safe and effective.

In an interview with BlackPressUSA TV, National Newspaper Publishers Association president Dr. Benjamin Franklin Chavis Jr. asked Fauci about claims by Russia that it would have a coronavirus vaccine approved in the next few weeks.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Thursday: "We could have a vaccine tomorrow, we wouldn't be safe or effective, but we could have a vaccine tomorrow.

"But we want to prove that it's safe and effective, and that's the reason why we're doing the clinical trials. So anybody could say they have a vaccine and make it, but you have to prove that it's safe and effective. Which I doubt that they've shown that but you know we'll see."

Fauci said: "Be aware of people that say they have a vaccine now."

The leading immunologist made similar comments at a congressional hearing last week.

He told the House Select Subcommittee on Coronavirus Crisis: "I do hope that the Chinese and the Russians are actually testing the vaccine before they are administering the vaccine to anyone. Because claims of having a vaccine ready to distribute before you do testing is, I think, problematic at best.

"We are going very quickly. I do not believe that there will be vaccines so far ahead of us that we will have to depend on other countries to get us vaccines. I believe the program that is being sponsored by us right now, and being directed and implemented by us, is going at a very rapid speed—prudent, but rapid," Fauci said.

Fauci has stated on a number of occasions that he hopes everyone in the U.S. will be vaccinated in 2021, and preparations are being developed quickly thanks to new technologies and money being pumped into efforts, not because safety is being compromised.

On Saturday, Russia's minister of health, Mikhail Murashko, said the N.F. Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology had completed clinical trials on its coronavirus vaccine, the state-controlled RIA Novosti news agency reported. Mass vaccinations are planned for October, he said. The Ministry of Defense said the test results showed volunteers given the vaccine developed an immune response, and had no side effects. Russia has not published scientific evidence to support its claims.

According to the World Health Organization's list of COVID-19 vaccine candidates last updated July 31, the Gamaleya Institute was in Phase 1 trials. Kirill Dmitriev, a senior official with Russia Direct Investment Fund, told The New York Times Phase 3 trials will start in early August, and will be approved later in the month.

Dmitriev said: "We believe it will be one of the first vaccines with regulatory approval."

Last month, intelligence agencies in the U.K., U.S., and Canada claimed that a cyber-espionage group aligned with Russia had tried to steal research from organizations developing coronavirus vaccines.

Cliff Kupchan, chairman of the risk consultancy firm Eurasia Group, told The New York Times: "There is an escalation in the geopolitics of vaccine research. What remains of the vast scientific complex of the Soviet period is a shadow of what it was."

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies before a House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on July 31, 2020 in Washington, DC. Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images
Fauci Doubts Russia Has Proven Its Coronavirus Vaccine Is Safe and Effective | Health