Russia vaccine
Medical workers in protective gear prepare to draw blood from volunteers participating in a trial of a coronavirus vaccine at the Budenko Main Military Hospital outside Moscow, Russia, on July 15, 2020.
Russian Defense Ministry Press Service
  • Russia offered to help the US secure a vaccine for the coronavirus, but the Americans turned it down, CNN reported.
  • Russia became the first country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine — Sputnik V — on Tuesday.
  • But experts say the development was rushed, test data and methodologies are being kept secret, and that truncated testing may have missed detrimental side effects.
  • Russian officials told CNN they offered the US help, and access to the Sputnik V vaccine, but were rebuffed.
  • One US public-health official told CNN: "There's no way in hell the US tries this [Russian vaccine] on monkeys, let alone people."
  • The US is partly funding about five vaccine projects as part of Operation Warp Speed, a plan to have 300 million doses of a safe and effective vaccine available by January 2021.
  • Visit Business Insider SA's homepage for more stories.

Russia offered to lend a hand to US efforts to access or develop a coronavirus vaccine, but the Americans refused it, according to a CNN report.

Russia announced on Tuesday that it had approved the Sputnik V vaccine from the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute.

Sputnik V's development has been shrouded in secrecy, and those working on it have been criticised for taking shortcuts to please the Kremlin, which wants to declare victory in the global Covid-19 vaccine race.

The vaccine was approved before it went through phase 3 trials, which are deemed essential to ensuring the safety of a drug. Its early trial results have also not undergone peer review, and the methodology and results are still a secret, as Business Insider's Susie Neilson has reported.

Nonetheless, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that the vaccine "passed all the needed checks" and that one of his daughters had been inoculated.

Russian officials told CNN they offered the US access to the vaccine, but found that the "US is not currently open" to the idea.

Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci at a White House press briefing in April.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

"There is a general sense of mistrust of Russia on the American side and we believe that technologies — including vaccine, testing and treatments — are not being adopted in US because of that mistrust," an unnamed senior Russian official told CNN.

Meanwhile, one US public-health official told CNN: "There's no way in hell the US tries this [Russian vaccine] on monkeys, let alone people."

Scientists working on Sputnik V were also criticised by the medical community after they said they had injected themselves with the prototype to speed up the process.

Russia's Association of Clinical Research Organisations said the step was a "crude violation of the very foundations of clinical research, Russian law, and universally accepted international regulations."

Anthony Fauci, the top infectious-disease expert in the US, also said this week that he "seriously doubts" that the Russian vaccine is safe or effective.

The US government is currently working with and part-funding around five vaccine projects as part of Operation Warp Speed, a private-public partnership to produce 300 million doses of a safe and effective vaccine available by January 2021. None of the funded projects have been formally approved yet.

"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," Fauci said.

Jens Spahn, the German health minister, said on Wednesday that the vaccine was dangerous, as it had not been "sufficiently tested."

"I would be pleased if we had an initial, good vaccine, but based on everything we know — and that's the fundamental problem, namely that the Russians aren't telling us much — this has not been sufficiently tested," he said.

A large number of pharmaceutical and healthcare companies in Russia have banded together to ask the health ministry to delay the registration of the vaccine until phrase 3 trials are concluded.  

However, a score of countries, including the Philippines and Venezuela, have already agreed to partner with Russia to get access to Sputnik V.

The state-run TASS news agency said Russia hopes to start mass producing Sputnik V by late August or early September.

"If our vaccine proves to be one of the most effective, questions will be asked why the US did not explore this option any deeper, why politics got in way of access to a vaccine," a senior Russian official told CNN.

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