Countries around the world which are in a race to develop the first successful COVID-19 vaccine should not cut corners during the trial phase, says one South African scientist.

Retired South African epidemiologist Dr Jo Barnes says medical scientists are afraid of countries which quickly approve and export a vaccine – before all the safety trials have been adhered to.

Barnes made these comments following Russia’s undertaking that it expects to begin the last phase of its trial in mid-August.

She says, “I have to tell you that there is an unfortunate thing in there called money. And of course, the one that can bring an effective vaccine without side effects on the market, stands to make an absolute fortune, so what we are seeing here now is something that is worrying us in the medical profession, that countries and places are starting to cut corners.”

Below Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize speaks on Russia’s vaccine trial:

According to a Harvard Business Review report Merck & Co Inc’s Chief Kenneth Frazier, COVID-19 vaccines under development are not guaranteed to work and people who say to expect a vaccine before year-end are doing a “grave disservice to the public,”

The potential vaccines may not have the qualities needed to be rapidly deployed in large numbers of people, Chief Executive Kenneth Frazier said in an interview published on Monday.

Frazier said, “If you’re going to use a vaccine on billions of people, you better know what that vaccine does.” A US official said Monday that drug-makers partnered with the US government are on track to begin actively manufacturing a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the summer, Reuters reported.

The Trump administration aims to produce 300 million vaccine doses by the end of 2021 though its Operation Warp Speed Programme.

Some previous vaccines “not only didn’t confer protection,but actually helped the virus invade the cell, because it was incomplete in terms of its immunogenic properties,” Frazier said.

“So, we have to be very careful.” Merck announced in May plans to study potential vaccine and therapy candidates for COVID-19 through partnerships and an acquisition of Austrian vaccine maker Themis Bioscience. It has not started clinical trials for its vaccine.

Frazier, one of only four Black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, said the US pandemic, with a higher death rate among non-white people, has highlighted “huge structural elements of racism that have existed in this country for a long time.”

American companies must work to dismantle processes and systems that impede Black employees from advancing, he said. “At the end of the day, if you’re complacent with the status quo,you’re complicit in the racism that the status quo hides.”

Additional reporting: Reuters