Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb warned people about trusting Moscow’s claims that it had developed a successful coronavirus vaccine.
Gottlieb appeared on CNBC on Tuesday morning hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin had announced that a Russian lab had created a viable vaccine and one of the president’s daughters had already been inoculated with it.
“I wouldn’t take it, certainly not outside of a clinical trial right now,” Gottlieb said. “It appears that it’s only been tested in several hundred patients at most. In some reports, it’s been in as few as a hundred patients.”
“It’s not a trivial vaccine in terms of its technical complexity that goes into manufacturing a vaccine like this. If you remember the Chinese were also developing an adenoviral vector vaccine by a company called CanSino that’s in clinical trials in Canada and the early data on that vaccine isn’t very encouraging,” Gottlieb continued. “A lot of people had antibodies to the viral vector itself, and so they effectively neutralized the viral vector because it was based on a common cold, the virus that was being used to deliver the gene sequence in this case. And its not clear how efficacious the Russian vaccine is going to be and whether or not people have some prior immunity to the adenovirus that they are using to deliver the coronavirus gene sequence.”
The vaccine was created by the Gamaleya Institute in Moscow and approved by the Russian health ministry. Putin said the vaccine “has proven efficient and forms a stable immunity” and “has passed all the necessary tests,” according to the Associated Press. He also revealed that one of his two daughters had taken the vaccine, but did not say which.
Gottlieb added later on Twitter that Moscow’s announcement may be a play to pressure the United States into rushing its own vaccine development, or “sow doubts” about the possibility of an effective vaccine in the future.
“Russia was reported to be behind disinformation campaigns to sow doubts in U.S. about our Covid vaccines; and today’s news that they ‘approved’ a vaccine on the equivalent of phase 1 data may be another effort to stoke doubts or goad U.S. into forcing early action on our vaccines,” Gottlieb said.
Russia was reported to be behind disinformation campaigns to sow doubts in U.S. about our Covid vaccines; and today’s news that they “approved” a vaccine on the equivalent of phase 1 data may be another effort to stoke doubts or goad U.S. into forcing early action on our vaccines https://t.co/WR6xPkFcfJ
— Scott Gottlieb, MD (@ScottGottliebMD) August 11, 2020
The U.S. State Department has issued several warnings to the White House that information and data that Moscow is reporting related to the coronavirus pandemic is not trustworthy. Intelligence officials have also warned that Russian may be trying to steal data coronavirus vaccine development from other countries.
In July, intelligence officials in Great Britain, the United States, and Canada said that a group thought to be connected to the Kremlin was attempting to hack labs and institutes working on a coronavirus vaccine. The most likely explanation for the espionage is that Russia was attempting to steal data to expedite the creation of their own vaccine so they could be the first to announce a viable serum.
The U.S. State Department warned the White House in April that Moscow was working with the Iranians and Chinese to spread misinformation about the origin of the coronavirus, blaming the outbreak on the United States. The coronavirus was first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. Though the virus’ exact origins are unknown, one theory is that it began in a Wuhan lab that had been studying coronavirus strains around the time the disease broke out.