Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health
Patrick McDermott | Washington Nationals | Getty Images
The top official at the National Health Institute said Thursday that the Russian coronavirus vaccine skipped “basic parts” of the approval process and that some people referred to it as “Russian roulette”.
“I think practically every vaccine expert in the world who has studied this has been quite concerned about whether this was a wise decision. Some have called this Russian roulette,” said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the NIH, during a conference call with reporters.
NIH is part of the federal government’s program called Operation Warp Speed, which aims to accelerate the development, manufacture, and distribution of vaccines and treatments to fight the coronavirus.
Scientists and health officials around the world have questioned its safety and effectiveness of Russia’s vaccine, which President Vladimir Putin claimed “works quite effectively”. Putin said that Russian health officials had approved the first coronavirus vaccine and that one of his daughters had already taken it.
“Although I know that it works very effectively, it forms a stable immunity and, I repeat, has passed all the required tests,” Putin said.
On Thursday’s call, Collins said Russia had just done a Phase 1 clinical trial of its vaccine, giving it to around 100 people, and decided “that was good enough”. However, medical experts have warned that it is unknown whether a vaccine would work and what potential side effects would be possible without a large-scale Phase 3 clinical trial.
“If that were the standard, we would have been declared successful a few months ago because of the experience of successful phase 1 studies,” said Collins.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, told National Geographic in an interview that he “seriously doubts” Russia has proven its vaccine to be safe and effective.
“Having a vaccine … and proving that a vaccine is safe and effective are two different things. We have half a dozen or more vaccines. So if we wanted to take the chance to hurt a lot of people or harm them give that doesn’t. ” It’s not working, we could start next week if we wanted, “Fauci said during a National Geographic panel hosted by ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts and aired Thursday.
The World Health Organization said it is in contact with Russian regulators to conduct a rigorous review of the country’s vaccine before recommending it to other nations for procurement.