Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci said Russia’s claims of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is “bogus.”
During a live episode of the podcast ‘Healthy You: Surviving a Pandemic,’ hosted by George Washington University, Fauci said, “It’s not bogus because he has a vaccine, what’s bogus is to say you have a vaccine that’s safe and effective,” when asked about Russian President Vladamir Putin’s claims of a coronavirus vaccine.
“There’s a big difference between having a vaccine and proving in trials, that are really well-designed, randomized placebo-controlled trials, that when you’re starting to give it widely to hundreds of millions of people, that you’re giving a safe and effective vaccine,” he said on Wednesday.
“The Russians, to my knowledge and I’m pretty sure I’m correct, have not been studying this intensively in very large, randomized, placebo-controlled trials,” Fauci added.
Newsweek reached out to Putin’s office for comment but did not hear back before publication.
The U.S. top-leading infectious disease expert said the country has six ongoing vaccine projects, which he noted have yet to be proven as safe and effective. He said until it’s proven, “you really don’t want to be talking about having a vaccine.”
At least two of these vaccines are already in Phase 3 trials, which began on July 27. One is a 30,000 person trial, while the other is projecting to include 60,000 participants. Fauci said a third vaccine trial will begin soon.
Fauci predicted that the U.S. will have a COVID-19 vaccine ready by the end of December or early January.
“We will likely know within a period of several months, which takes us to the end of this calendar year and maybe to the beginning of 2021, whether or not we’ll have a safe and effective candidate,” Fauci said. “I believe, based on the preliminary data that we have, that we can be cautiously optimistic.”
Last week, federal health officials announced that a COVID-19 vaccine will be free for all Americans.
However, as science finally catches up to the virus that has now infected more than 5 million Americans, fewer Americans say they’ll get it once it becomes available.
A new poll from CNN/SSRS found that 40 percent of Americans said they would not get vaccinated for the virus if one were widely available at a low cost. This number has grown from the 33 percent who said they would not get a vaccine back in May.
Fauci said that because “vaccine disinformation can lead to vaccine hesitancy,” it is important to engage these individuals rather than criticize them. He said community engagement is especially important among minority communities, who are often and understandably reluctant to believe health authorities.
“You get out there and you get community representatives to engage them, to try and be as transparent as you possibly can with the data, answer the questions that they have and try to convince them that vaccinations in general, particularly a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19, is something that’s important for them, their families and society in general,” Fauci said.
He said he would not support a vaccine mandate for the general public, calling a requirement from the federal government “unenforceable and inappropriate.”