Former FDA Director Scott Gottlieb, who has been kicking himself for leaving the Trump Administration to spend more time “with family” late last year – only to miss out on what could have been a career-making turn as the nation’s corona-savior – and trying to compensate by appearing on “Squawk Box” and myriad other cable-TV shows as a certified “expert”, has some doubts about Russia’s new COVID vaccine.
And that’s hardly surprising. Since, to be fair, Gottlieb has expressed doubts for certain data dumps from Moderna and others which he has dubbed premature. Though it’s also worth noting that he’s on the board of Pfizer, a big-pharma giant that is working on its own COVID vaccine, having benefited from billions in promised and substantiated funding from the US government.
During Tuesday’s appearance on CNBC’s “Squawk Box”, Gottlieb weighed in on the COVID issue du jour: the newly registered Russian vaccine, which President Putin has touted as a ‘first in the world’ accomplishment.
Gottlieb has his doubts:
“I wouldn’t take it, certainly not outside a clinical trial right now, it appears it has only been tested in several hundreds patients at most,” Gottlieb complained. He also warned that the “adenoviral vector” used by the Russian scientists is similar to the strategy being pursued by CanSino. And Gottlieb alleged the data out of the CanSino trial has been ‘suboptimal’.
But it’s not just the lack of clinical data that bothers Gottlieb: the adenoviral vector used by the Russian vaccine is also being used by CanSino, a Chinese pharma giant working on its own vaccine. Gottlieb says the data released from CanSino so far “hasn’t been great”…and since Russia hasn’t released much in the way of any data, Gottlieb says it’s fair to question the results touted by the Russian government.
Gottlieb, however, did concede that it’s “not a trivial vaccine,” noting the complexity of the adenoviral vector. Still, “it’s not at all clear how efficacious the Russian adenovirus vaccine is going to be”.
Then again, Putin says he tested the Russian vaccine on his own daughter. And she only got a mild fever!
At this point, everybody speculating about the Russian vaccine will be doing so prematurely, as the scientific community awaits more details from the Russians.
At any rate, the latest ‘news analysis’ from Bloomberg warns readers of its website that most Americans won’t be able to receive a vaccine until well into next year.
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One month after Russia’s Gamelei Institute finished the first experimental vaccine trials on clinical subjects at Moscow’s state medical college, Russia has set an international precedent by becoming the first country to register a COVID-19 vaccine with international medical authorities.
Russia declared the vaccine “ready for use” and extraordinarily “safe” despite “international skepticism,” the Associated Press reported. Putin made the announcement during a “government meeting”, where he also revealed that one of his own daughters had participated in the experimental trials.
“I would like to repeat that it has passed all the necessary tests,” he said. “The most important thing is to ensure full safety of using the vaccine and its efficiency.”
The trials established that a single course of the Russian vaccine is enough to establish immunity to COVID-19, while side-effects were minimal, with slight fevers appearing in Putin’s daughter, and other subjecst.
“As far as I know, a vaccine against the coronavirus infection has been registered this morning (in Russia) for the first time in the world,” the President told members of the government. “I thank everyone who worked on the vaccine – it’s a very important moment for the whole world.”
Of course, it’s worth noting that Russia-linked hackers were accused of spying on and possibly stealing vaccine-related “medical secrets” gleaned form research conducted in the UK.
Putin insisted that vaccination in Russia should only be carried out on a voluntary basis.
“I know that it works rather effectively, forms a stable immunity, and, I repeat, it passed all the necessary inspections,” the President added.