Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious disease expert, expressed his doubts over Russia's claim that it has quickly created a COVID-19 vaccine that is safe and effective.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday that his health ministry has approved a vaccine after just two months of trials. It "works effectively enough," he said, adding that his daughter has received a dose.
During a virtual panel discussion with National Geographic on Tuesday, Fauci said he hopes the Russians have "actually, definitively proven that the vaccine is safe and effective. I seriously doubt they've done that." There are several vaccine candidates being tested in the U.S. right now, Fauci continued, and "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."
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The Russian vaccine has not gone through Phase III testing, when scientists compare the vaccine to a placebo in tens of thousands of people, The New York Times reports. This is not the time to cut corners, Fauci said, and Americans need to know that the U.S. isn't rushing to produce a vaccine "because we have a way of doing things in this country that we care about safety." Worldwide, there are more than 20 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, with at least 737,000 people dying of the virus.
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