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Kremlin Rejects Vaccine Disinformation Campaign Accusations As “Circus”

“Commenting on the allegations against Russia is becoming more and more like a circus,” Peskov said in a conference call with reporters on Friday. “Russia is not misinforming anyone, Russia proudly speaks of its successes and Russia shares its successes regarding the first [coronavirus] vaccine in the world “.

“We know that Russia has a track record in this area. We have previously commented and called into question them,” Raab said in an interview with Sky News.

“But anyone who tries to substantially sabotage the efforts of those trying to develop a vaccine, I think they are deeply reprehensible. It is unacceptable and unwarranted under any circumstances.”


The Times said a “whistleblower” “involved in the campaign” passed the images to the newspaper concerned about potential harm to public health efforts. The newspaper notes that it is not clear whether the campaign was authorized directly by the Kremlin but adds that “there is evidence that some Russian officials were involved in its organization and dissemination”.

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“Misinformation is a clear risk to public health. This is especially true during the current pandemic which continues to claim tens of thousands of lives, significantly disrupting the way we live and damaging the economy,” Pascal said. Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca, in a statement.

“I urge everyone to use reliable sources of information, to trust regulatory agencies and to remember the tremendous benefits that vaccines and medicines continue to bring to humanity.”

Disinformation is “reckless and despicable behavior that could lead to real harm to people’s health,” said a source in Whitehall, the area in central London where key UK ministries are based. “This type of lying basically harms us all around the world and we need to be careful to identify and counter this type of activity to support the provision of factual information for all people about Covid-19 and vaccines.”

When asked to comment on the article, the Kremlin spokesperson in turn accused the UK of spreading misinformation about the Russian vaccine, suggesting it is a testament to unfair competition in the vaccine race.

“Russia already has documents of intention to jointly sell or produce this vaccine in a number of countries, and of course in these countries Russia does not refuse to inform [the public] about the benefits of our vaccine, “Peskov said.” A number of [producers] which might be called contests, are those that engage in disinformation, disinformation agents are sitting in the UK, among other places. ”

According to the Times, the campaign was aimed at “countries like India and Brazil where Russia was trying to market its own vaccine,” as well as Western countries that are developing their own vaccines. To date, the Russian sovereign wealth fund (or RDIF), which sponsors the vaccine, has said it has reached agreements to supply Sputnik V to India and Brazil, among others.

RDIF said it condemns the social media attacks on the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“We condemn social media posts aimed at disparaging the AstraZeneca vaccine described by the Times today. We believe that any attempt to smear any vaccine is wrong, including those against Gamaleya’s Sputnik V vaccine,” Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of RDIF, told CNN. , statement Friday. “All vaccines should, of course, be subject to the most rigorous scientific scrutiny.”

However, the “monkey vaccine” narrative has already been voiced by Russian officials and state media.

On 9 September, following news of a hiatus in AstraZeneca’s global trials due to an unexplained disease, Dmitry Peskov said the British vaccine is less safe as it is a “monkey vaccine” while Russian development is a “human vaccine” and is believed to be “much more reliable” by Russian scientists.

Raw images depicting monkeys with captions like “Monkey vaccine is okay” and similar memes appeared in Russian state media two days after AstraZeneca announced the hiatus. On September 10, the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti published an editorial titled “Why the West is Losing the Vaccine Race: Russia Has Been Exposed”, which contained four caricatures of the monkey vaccine with English captions. .

AstraZeneca has since resumed testing in the UK. In the United States, the FDA is considering whether to allow AstraZeneca to resume the process after a participant becomes ill. The question is whether the disease was a fluke or whether it could be related to the vaccine.

The head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which sponsors the development of Sputnik V, said in September that the company is “pleased” to see AstraZeneca’s trials are progressing, but called the approach “unacceptable” due to of “over-reliance on new unverified information technologies”, including the use of a monkey adenovirus vector or mRNA technology.

In July, however, the RDIF announced that one of its portfolio companies, drug maker R-Pharm, reached an agreement with AstraZeneca to produce the Oxford vaccine in Russia. The announcement came after Russia-related actors are attempting to hack UK, US and Canadian-based research centers to gather information on vaccine production. Russia has denied any involvement.

RDIF chief Kirill Dmitriev told Reuters that Moscow did not need to steal any secrets at the time as it already had a deal with AstraZeneca to produce the potential British vaccine in Russia.

“The transfer of the cell line and the adenovirus vector to Russia has been carried out; it is planned to produce the antigen here and produce the finished doses,” R-Pharm said in a July statement. “At the same time, Russia will be one of the hubs for the production and supply of the vaccine to international markets.”

The race inside Russia's coronavirus vaccination laboratory

When asked on Friday to comment on whether AstraZeneca’s pause in testing and technology threatens a deal with a Russian manufacturer, Dmitriev said, “One of the companies in our portfolio is producing the AstraZeneca vaccine. We believe it’s the vector approach. human adenoviral that Sputnik V is using, both The chimpanzee adenoviral vector approach used by AstraZeneca are both very promising approaches based on solid science. ”

Gamaleya uses adenovirus in its Covid-19 vaccines; this is the same approach used in the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca. Adenovirus provides genetic material for the spike protein that sits on top of the virus that causes Covid-19, and that genetic material is designed to generate an immune response to the virus.

Adenoviruses can cause a variety of symptoms, including the common cold. Researchers manipulate the virus so it doesn’t replicate and cause disease.

Gamaleya vaccine is given in two doses and each dose uses a different adenovirus vector.

Russia registered its first Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in August after testing it on 76 volunteers and ahead of large-scale phase 3 trials. The announcement came with great fanfare from Russian state media, but sparked widespread skepticism from the international community regarding its security and the notion that approval could have been rushed by political objectives. Sputnik V is now in phase 3 of the trial which has so far involved 13,000 people and is seeking to enlist up to 40,000, according to Russian officials.

AstraZeneca began large-scale phase 3 human clinical trials in August, seeking to enroll up to 30,000. Such tests are the last step before a vaccine manufacturer requests approval from regulatory authorities.

Another EpiVacCorona vaccine developed by a former Vector biochemical weapons laboratory was registered in Russia this week before going through phase 3 trials. The third potential Russian vaccine, from the Chumakov Institute, has started Phase I trials. last week.

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