At the time of Sputnik V’s approval, Moderna and Pfizer were months away from announcing the results of their Phase III trials or filing for F.D.A. authorization to begin wide-scale vaccination programs. Scientific experts expressed concern at the speed with which the Russian vaccine had been registered for public use. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told an ABC News correspondent, “I hope that the Russians have actually definitively proven that the vaccine is safe and effective. I seriously doubt that they’ve done that.”
[Researcher Vladimir] Gushchin, from Gamaleya’s genetic laboratory, said of the suspicions, “It’s very sad to see. As if we’re all a bunch of crazy Russian scientists who poured something into vials and said, ‘Now go inject yourselves.’ ”
In mid-December, on the basis of data collected from some twenty-three thousand participants in its Phase III trial, Gamaleya issued its final determination of the vaccine’s efficacy: 91.4 per cent.
Russia, [virologist Konstantin Chumakov] said, had “demonstrated a certain willingness to cut corners. But that’s no reason to say that the vaccine itself won’t prove effective. It has no less a chance than any other—and, if indeed it turns out to be a success, who will remember or care about all that came before?”