Former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb sounded a note of caution on Tuesday against Russia’s claim to have produced a vaccine for the coronavirus.
Russian president Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday morning that his country had discovered the first effective treatment for the coronavirus, calling the vaccine “Sputnik V.” However, Gottlieb said that the announcement most likely amounted to propaganda.
“I wouldn’t take it, certainly not outside a clinical trial right now,” Gottlieb told CNBC’s Squawk Box regarding the vaccine. “It appears that it’s only been tested in several hundred patients at most.”
Typically, a vaccine must go through clinical trials on thousands of people before doctors draw conclusions about its efficacy.
“Russia was reported to be behind disinformation campaigns to sow doubts in U.S. about our Covid vaccines,” Gottlieb wrote on Twitter. “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.”
Russia is not the only country that may be attempting to complicate U.S. vaccine research efforts. The Trump administration has warned that Chinese and Iranian hackers are attempting to damage American vaccine research and development through cyber attacks.
There are several vaccines in development in the U.S., with Moderna’s candidate currently in phase-3 clinical trials involving 30,000 patients. A vaccine produced by Oxford University is also heading to phase-3 trials in the U.S.