What 6 public health experts think of Russia's COVID-19 vaccine approval

Russia approved a COVID-19 vaccine although clinical trials have not concluded yet. 

The vaccine was developed by Gamaleya Institute in Moscow, and the country claims millions of Russians will receive the vaccination this month; Russian President Vladimir Putin says one of his daughters has already received it.

But U.S. officials and healthcare leaders are less confident in that vaccine's effectiveness. In the U.S., there are two COVID-19 vaccines in phase 3 clinical trials and four other COVID-19 vaccines in earlier stages of clinical trials, according to a CNBC report.

Here is what U.S. leaders are saying about the vaccine:

Alex Azar, HHS secretary said on Good Morning America: "The point is not to be first with the vaccine; the point is to have a vaccine that is safe and effective for the American people and the people of the world. We need transparent data and it's got to be phase 3 data that shows that a vaccine is safe and effective."

Scott Gottlieb, MD, former FDA chief, said on CNBC's Squawk Box: "I wouldn't take it, certainly not outside a clinical trial right now. They're claiming that's fully approved, but it's not fully approved … We certainly wouldn't allow a vaccine to be used for mass distribution at this point based on the data we have at hand. We just don't know if the vaccines are safe and effective at this point."

Lawrence Gostin, director of the Georgetown University O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law in Washington, D.C., told the Wall Street Journal: "It's really reckless and sets a deeply disturbing precedent that it's all right to cut corners, it's all right to ignore ethics, it's all right to ignore international legal standards in search for a vaccine. That could be disastrous."

Matthew Schmidt, PhD, University of New Haven associate professor of national security and political science said to MarketWatch: "There are no Olympic medals for being first. Cheating on the scientific process hurts the perception of vaccine safety everywhere. The goal isn't to be first; it's to be first in a way that gives people faith in a vaccine's safety."

Florian Krammer, PhD, professor of microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, said on Twitter: "Not sure what Russia is up to but I certainly would not take a vaccine that hasn't been tested in Phase III. Nobody knows if it works. They are putting [healthcare workers] and their population at risk."

Michael Osterholm, PhD, director of the Center of Infection Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota said in an interview with MSNBC: "We can't count on the vaccine yet being there, and so we have to come to grips with the virus. We have to learn how to deal with it. And we're not. We're ignoring it, thinking that it'll go away and it's not going to happen."

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