But officials told CNN that the “US is not currently open” to Russian medical advancements.
“There is a general feeling of mistrust of Russia on the US side and we believe that technologies – including vaccines, testing and treatments – are not being applied in the US because of that mistrust,” a senior Russian official told CNN.
White House press officer Kayleigh McEnany said on Thursday that President Donald Trump has been briefed on the new Russian vaccine. She said that US vaccines undergo “rigorous” Phase 3 testing and high standards.
Other US officials told CNN that the Russian vaccine is considered so half-baked in the United States that it hadn’t even piqued serious US interest before its rollout. “There’s no way the US will try this (Russian vaccine) on monkeys, let alone humans,” said a US government public health official.
The race to find an effective vaccine – more than 20 are in trials around the world – has global implications, not just for the health of billions of people, but potentially billions in revenue for the successful developer and manufacturer.
Russia says US companies are interested
Russian officials tell CNN that Russia is open to sharing information about the vaccine and that it would allow US pharmaceutical companies to manufacture the Russian vaccine on US soil.
CNN previously reported that Russia says some US pharmaceutical companies are interested in information about the Russian vaccine, although the names of the companies have not been disclosed.
Following the United States’ rejection, Russian sources say Washington should “seriously consider adopting the vaccine,” telling CNN that the newly approved Russian coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, could save American lives.
“If our vaccine turns out to be one of the most effective, there will be questions as to why the US hasn’t explored this option more deeply, why politics has been blocking access to a vaccine,” a senior Russian official told CNN.
CNN has reached out to the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and Operation Warp Speed for comment.
Russia’s sovereign wealth fund said in a press conference on Tuesday that at least twenty countries in Latin America, the Middle East and Asia have expressed interest in the vaccine. In particular, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he is so confident in the vaccine that he will take it when it arrives in his country, and Mexico’s Foreign Minister said on Thursday morning that Mexico is “in talks” with Russia about the vaccine.
No test data released
The vaccine, developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute, was approved by the Russian government before pivotal Phase 3 studies were started in which it would be administered to thousands of people. Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), announced earlier this week that Phase 3 trials of the vaccine would start in Russia on Wednesday.
Russia has not released scientific data on its testing, and CNN cannot verify the vaccine’s claimed safety or effectiveness.
A senior US official and a US government adviser tell CNN that no obtained samples of the newly announced Russia Covid-19 vaccine are in the possession of the US government.
“They now have enough disease in Russia to run clinical trials, but they don’t seem to have done that on a large enough scale,” said the government adviser who spoke to CNN on the condition that no name was used. “No tests have been done with this vaccine. They haven’t done enough work on people to decide if it works on a larger scale. We are talking about totally inadequate security data. ”
Russia passed a law in April that eliminated the requirement that critical Phase 3 investigations had to be conducted before approval. This has allowed researchers to speed up the development process of vaccines.
“There is a lot of debate about emergency use authorization – in the event of a pandemic, there are a number of points where you can pass judgment to say that the potential benefits of this vaccine outweigh the risks, so we give it an authorization for emergency use to get approval quickly. That’s basically what Russia just did. It is the October surprise that we all fear, ”said the senior US official.
“But in the end the risks are far too great. The backlash in this country would be dire, ”the senior US official added.
The Russian coronavirus vaccine will be gradually rolled out to high-risk people before a massive vaccination of Russians begins in October.
A former senior US government official called the Russian vaccine “a joke,” adding that Russia has not completed the three stages of testing, so no one – not the World Health Organization or the US – is taking it too seriously. The source continued to say that China is “much closer to winning the vaccination race.”
US government officials and government advisers told CNN that they believe China is much more serious and responsible with its own testing. “China is very eager to enter the world of normal reaction and regulation and they are trying to,” said an official.
The US sources noted that they believe Russia is only doing this to have leverage – usually in the hope of exchanging it for strategic assets. Putin, like Trump, is under significant pressure to make formidable efforts to defeat the virus.
“No one will dare to question him (Putin), and Russia’s standards of efficacy do not match those of the US,” said a former official.
This story was reported and written by Matthew Chance and Zahra Ullah in Moscow, and Vivian Salama in Washington DC.