Two leading voices on health issues in the US express skepticism about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim that his country was the first to develop a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine. Putin’s claim on Tuesday raised immediate doubts about the science and security behind the alleged achievement.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday that he hopes Moscow “has in fact conclusively proven that the vaccine is safe and effective. I seriously doubt they did it.”
Fauci added that the US is working on “half a dozen or more vaccines. So if we want to take the opportunity to hurt a lot of people or give them something that doesn̵7;t work, we can start doing that,” “You know, next week if we want to. But it’s not the way it works.”
Fauci made the remarks during a keynote interview for “Stop Pandemics,” an exclusive air-due event on Aug. 13 via National Geographic.
Separately, U.S. Secretary of Health Alex Azar said during a visit to Taiwan on Wednesday that the push to develop a COVID-19 vaccine is not “a race to be first.”
Azar said the U.S. is combining the strengths of its government, economy and biopharmaceutical industry to “deliver as quickly as we can to the benefit of U.S. citizens, but also to the people of the world, safe and effective vaccines.” “.
He said the US has secured an advanced manufacturing contract for a vaccine being developed by Moderna and has supply agreements with five other firms that have vaccines in the works.
He noted that four of the six companies under the contract reported test results showing that they produced more antibodies to the virus than people who survived COVID-19, with no serious side effects.
Azar said the vaccine candidates of both companies have entered the third phase of trials while the Russian vaccine is now entering that phase without any information being leaked.
He said the US process should allow the production of a “standard gold vaccine, safe and effective” available in the tens of millions of doses by the end of the year.
But Russian Health Minister Mikhail said on Wednesday that allegations that Russia’s vaccine was unsafe and stemmed from competition, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported, according to Reuters news service.
And a Chinese official was attacked in Azar on Wednesday for visiting Taiwan amid a continuing home pandemic, accusing him of putting politics ahead of the lives of the American people.
The comments came a day after Azar accused China of failing to warn the rest of the world about the coronavirus.