Trump on Russia’s Controversial Coronavirus Vaccine: “We Hope It Works”
U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday that he is hopeful that Russia’s recently approved coronavirus vaccine is effective.
“We don’t know much about it. We hope it works, we do, we hope it works,” Trump said during a White House press conference.
“They’ve cut off certain trials and we feel it’s just important to go through the process.”
Trump was also asked whether he would take one of the vaccines being developed in partnership with the U.S. government.
He responded by saying that he would take it, adding: “I’d go first or last. I’ll do whatever they want me to.”
Trump later noted that if a vaccine does get approved in the United States, it should first go to the most vulnerable within the population.
“We’re actually making a list right now,” he said. “Mostly nursing homes, retirement centers.”
On Tuesday, Russia announced that its vaccine, named “Sputnik V,” had been green-lighted by its health regulators, making it the world’s first coronavirus vaccine to be approved.
Large-scale production of the vaccine, perhaps up to five million doses a month, is slated to begin in September, with mass vaccinations starting in October.
However, as the vaccine had only undergone rapid Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials on a small number of individuals, medical experts around the world, including White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, have voiced their concerns regarding its safety and efficacy.
Phase 3 trials are considered by many medical experts to be critical for any vaccine development, as they have the ability to root out any potentially dangerous side effects. Such trials often involve thousands of participants.
Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, said Thursday that Russia’s vaccine did not even make an effort to meet the “fundamental parts” of the scientific approval process.
“I think virtually every vaccine expert in the world looking at this has been quite concerned whether this was a wise decision,” Collins said during a conference call with reporters. “Some have called this Russian roulette.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, has claimed that it “works quite effectively” and even stated that one of his daughters has already been given the shot.
The World Health Organization has confirmed that it is in contact with Russian regulatory authorities to conduct an in-depth review of the country’s vaccine.
There are now more than 21 million confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, including at least 762,000 deaths as of Friday, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.