Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US' top infectious disease expert, said he seriously doubts Russia has proven its coronavirus vaccine is safe and effective after Moscow said it had approved a drug for use Tuesday.
“I hope that the Russians have actually, definitively proven that the vaccine is safe and effective. I seriously doubt that they've done that,” Fauci told Deborah Roberts of ABC News for a National Geographic event to broadcast Thursday. A portion of the interview was posted by National Geographic on Tuesday.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that having a vaccine and proving that a vaccine is safe and effective are two different things.
“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.”
Fauci said that if and when Americans hear announcements from countries like Russia or China about vaccine development, they have to remember that the United States has certain safety and efficacy standards in place. Makers of the Russian vaccine have not yet released any data from human trials.
The US Food and Drug Administration has said that it will only approve a vaccine if it meets a 50% efficacy requirement.
In a statement emailed Tuesday, the World Health Organization said it is in touch with Russian scientists and authorities and looks forward to reviewing details of the trials. According to WHO, there are 28 vaccines in human trials around the world.