U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci discredited on Wednesday Russia’s claim of developing the first safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said none of the six ongoing vaccine projects in the country has been proven successful.

Asked about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claims of a coronavirus vaccine during a live episode of the podcast “Healthy You: Surviving a Pandemic,” Dr. Fauci said it was “bogus.” “It’s not bogus because he has a vaccine, what’s bogus is to say you have a vaccine that’s safe and effective,” he said.

Dr. Fauci explained that there’s a huge difference between having a vaccine and developing a vaccine that’s proven safe and effective. “There’s a big difference between having a vaccine and proving in trials, that are really well-designed, randomized placebo-controlled trials, that when you’re starting to give it widely to hundreds of millions of people, that you’re giving a safe and effective vaccine,” he explained.

He also said that Russia has not been conducting intense studies in large, randomized, placebo-controlled trials, so the country cannot talk about having a vaccine. The Phase 3 trials for at least two of the country’s COVID-19 vaccines started on July 27. One of the ongoing trials is a 30,000-person trial, while the other involves 60,000 participants.

Dr. Fauci said the U.S. coronavirus vaccine will be ready by the end of December or early January. Once proven safe and effective, the vaccine will be available for free for all Americans.

“We will likely know within a period of several months, which takes us to the end of this calendar year and maybe to the beginning of 2021, whether or not we’ll have a safe and effective candidate,” he said. “I believe, based on the preliminary data that we have, that we can be cautiously optimistic.”

However, a new poll has revealed that 40 percent of Americans would not get vaccinated for COVID-19 even if a coronavirus vaccine becomes widely available next year. Dr. Fauci explained it’s because “vaccine disinformation can lead to vaccine hesitancy.” He said efforts must be made to engage citizens and convince them that vaccination is important to prevent COVID-19.  

Vaccine Discussion about the Cuba's life-saving lung cancer vaccine called CimaVax-EGF is growing rapidly. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard