Top US health officials have insisted the US is holding out for a “safe and effective” Covid-19 vaccine, hinting that Russia’s shot is anything but – or even that it’s a plot to “goad US into forcing early action on our vaccines.”

“The point is not to be first with a vaccine, the point is to have a vaccine that is safe and effective for the American people and the people of the world,” US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar told ABC on Tuesday, demanding “transparent” phase 3 test data.

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb was more pointed in his criticism of Russia’s coronavirus jab, suggesting “today’s news that they ‘approved’ a vaccine on the equivalent of phase 1 data may be another effort to stoke doubts [in US vaccine development] or goad US into forcing early action on our vaccines” in a Tuesday tweet.

The irony of US health officials criticizing the speed of Russia’s vaccine development appeared lost on the pair. The Trump administration’s own vaccine development program, called Operation Warp Speed, has been criticized even by the country’s most fervent vaccine boosters for its “unsafe” timeline, which has contracted from an ambitious 18 month projected schedule to “maybe before the election.