Anthony Fauci, White House coronavirus advisor, said Tuesday that he hoped “the Russians have actually definitively proven that the vaccine is safe and effective,” adding, “I seriously doubt that they’ve done that.”
Meanwhile, Daniel Salmon, director of the Institute for Vaccine Studies at Johns Hopkins University, called the news “really scary. It’s really risky” and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner, told CNBC Tuesday that he would “certainly not” take it outside of a clinical trial where patients are closely monitored.
Russia has denied that it is part of an “arms race” to develop a vaccine, saying it wants to cooperate with other nations. The country’s race to develop a vaccine shows the competitive undertone to combatting the pandemic. Accusations have come from the U.K., Canada and the U.S. that Russia has tried to “steal” coronavirus vaccine research information, an accusation Moscow denies. The name of the vaccine, Sputnik V, gives a nod to the world’s first satellite that was launched by Russia in 1957 during the Cold War space race.
J. Stephen Morrison, a senior vice president at think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, told CNBC Wednesday that Putin is trying to score “a domestic win” with the planned rollout of Russia’s vaccine, having been accused of mismanaging his country’s virus outbreak and failing to revive the economy.
Russia has the fourth highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, with over 900,000 cases as of Weednesday. The official death toll stands at 15,260.