Despite President Duterte’s willingness to be publicly injected with the Sputnik 5, United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Wednesday expressed concern over the lack of data and transparency in the development of the Russian-made anti-COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) vaccine.
“And I should note that… the data from the initial trials in Russia have not been disclosed, it’s not transparent,” Azar told journalists during the Asia-Pacific Media Hub interview hosted by the US State Department. Azar is currently in Taiwan conducting consultations with top officials in Taipei on COVID-19 cooperation.
The US official declined to comment directly when asked about his thoughts on Duterte’s willingness to be injected with the COVID-19 vaccine from Russia.
Azar, instead, emphasized the importance of the US commitment to providing “safe and effective” vaccines through “Operation: Warp Speed,” a partnership program involving several US federal agencies as part of a broader strategy to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, among others.
“This is not a race to be first. This is using every power of the US government, its economy, our biopharmaceutical industry across the globe, and harnessing that to deliver as quickly as we can for the benefit of the United States’ citizens, but also for the people of the world safe and effective vaccines,” Azar said.
Under the program, he stressed that any vaccine will be proven to be safe and effective in ethical clinical trials, and the data will be made transparently available and reviewed by outside experts.
According to Azar, two of the six vaccines that the US government invested in have entered Phase 3 of clinical trials weeks ago, compared to the Russian vaccine which is now only beginning.
He said the data from the initial trials in Russia “have not been disclosed, it’s not transparent.”
“And so that would be our position, which is we will require any vaccine in the United States be safe and effective, and meet the FDA’s gold standard,” the US Health Secretary said.