Washington’s health chief on Wednesday expressed scepticism about Russia’s claim of developing the world’s first safe COVID-19 vaccine, pointing to the lack of data from its trials.
Moscow said on Tuesday that its vaccine offered “sustainable immunity” against the virus, but scientists have previously raised concerns about the development speed of Russian treatments, suggesting that researchers were cutting corners.
U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar echoed those concerns on Wednesday as he wrapped up a three-day visit to Taiwan. “It’s important that we provide safe, effective vaccines and that the data be transparent… This is not a race to be first,” he told reporters.
“I should note that two of the six U.S. vaccines that we’ve invested in entered the phase three clinical trials weeks ago that the Russian vaccine is now only beginning,” he added.
“The data from the initial trials in Russia have not been disclosed, it’s not transparent.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the vaccine was safe, and that one of his daughters had received a dose.