8/12/20 – Concerns Rise Over Russian Claim of Vaccine

US Health & Human Services Director Alex Azar disputes Russian claims of achieving an effective vaccine against Covid-19. Azar says the goal is not to be first but to provide a save and effective weapon against the Coronavirus. Photo courtesy of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Saying the point of creating a vaccine is not about being first, Russia made headlines on Tuesday by being the first country to officially register a COVID-19 vaccine, dubbed Sputnik V,  that is reportedly ready for use.  However, U.S. health officials are not too confident the vaccine is trustworthy.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar noted that Russia has not released any scientific data from its early trials and also approved the vaccine before it completed Phase III testing.

Currently, the U.S. is studying six potential vaccines with two already moved on to Phase III — which requires a large number of volunteers to prove the safety and effectiveness of the treatment, according to the American Cancer Society.  Understandably, Phase III takes longer to complete than Phases I and II.

Speaking to Good Morning America Tuesday, Azar cautioned, “The point is not to be first with a vaccine; the point is to have a vaccine that is safe and effective for the American people and the people of the world.”

When asked when America will feasibly have an approved vaccine ready to distribute, Azar estimated the country “could have FDA-authorized or approved vaccines by December.”

“It will really depend on the speed at which the clinical trials enroll and people are vaccinated and then are exposed to the virus,” he added.