Dr. Fauci Just Said He's "Quite Disturbed" by This New COVID Development

The recent announcement of a purported Russian vaccine has the top medical expert on edge.

As we've begun to get a better understanding of the novel coronavirus, many medical experts have said that life will likely only start to truly go back to normal once a working vaccine is developed and distributed. This has quickened the already breakneck speed that scientists around the globe are working to create an effective vaccine against COVID-19. But a recent development in this area has raised some concerns for top medical expert Anthony Fauci, MD, who says that the news of a COVID vaccine developed by Russia isn't sitting well with him.

During a live video interview with Bloomberg's QuickTake on Aug. 18, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) director cited major concerns for public health as a result of Russia's announcement that they have a COVID vaccine, which has not been properly vetted by the international scientific community. "I'm quite disturbed by Russia or any country which declares they have a vaccine before they've adequately tested it," Fauci said. "Because that would really impart upon the rest of the world if it turns out the vaccine isn't safe."

Russian President Vladimir Putin received intense backlash from scientists all over the world when he announced on Aug. 11 that his country had developed an effective vaccine for COVID-19 after just two months of clinical trials. The proposed inoculation has yet to complete a third phase of testing to ensure that it works and to check for any potentially dangerous side effects. However, it is still slated to be rolled out to the general population, beginning with teachers and healthcare workers.

While there are hundreds of companies and institutions around the world racing for a vaccine, Fauci says that safety must be emphasized above all else, telling Bloomberg that "there are two things about a vaccine you want: You want it to be safe and you want it to be effective."

The leading infectious disease expert also explained that testing vaccines differs from pharmaceutical clinical trials. "With vaccines—unlike drugs which you're giving to a person who may be sick and who needs them—you're distributing the vaccines globally to billions of people who are healthy people, people who you don't want to make sick," he said. "That's why we emphasize safety very strongly."

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In an interview with Heathline on Aug. 18, Fauci shared more thoughts on Russia's alleged vaccine. "To say you have a vaccine and to say you have a vaccine that's proven to be safe and effective… I mean, for all practical purposes, I could say we have six vaccines, but you wouldn't give it to anybody yet, except in a clinical trial," he explained. "So the concern that all of us have when you have any country or organization that says, 'We have a vaccine that we're going to start distributing to people,' well, that's almost impossible to do because you could not have tested adequately yet its safety and its efficacy."

Fauci went on to say that Russia merely has "a product that they're willing to take the risk to give it to people without necessarily showing yet that it's effective or that it's safe."

Despite his grievances with Russia's announcement, Fauci has also recently shown growing "cautious optimism" in the stateside hunt for a vaccine. He told Healthline that a vaccine will potentially be ready around the end of 2020 or the start of 2021. And for more on Fauci and a vaccine, check out Dr. Fauci Says the Government Won't Make These 2 Things Mandatory.

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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