“Commenting on the allegations against Russia is becoming more and more circus-like,” Peskov said in a conference call with journalists on Friday. Russia does not misinform anyone, Russia proudly speaks of its successes, and Russia shares its successes with regard to the first ever recorded [coronavirus] vaccine in the world. ”
“We know that Russia has a track record in this area. In the past, we have commented and called them out on it,” Raab said in an interview with Sky News.
“But anyone who is basically trying to sabotage the efforts of those who are trying to develop a vaccine, I think is deeply reprehensible. It is unacceptable and unfounded in any case.”
The Times said a “whistleblower” “involved in the campaign” passed the pictures to the paper out of concern about potential harm to public health efforts. The newspaper notes that it is not clear whether the campaign was approved directly by the Kremlin, but added “there is evidence that some Russian officials were involved in its organization and dissemination.”
“Incorrect information is a clear risk to public health. This is especially true during the current pandemic, which continues to claim tens of thousands of lives, disrupting the way we live and damaging the economy,” said Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca. in an announcement.
“I urge everyone to use reliable sources of information, to have confidence in regulatory bodies, and to remember the enormous benefits that vaccines and medicines continue to bring to humanity.”
Disinformation is “ruthless and contemptuous behavior that can lead to real damage to people’s health”, said a source in Whitehall, the area of central London where the main British ministries are based. “This kind of lie is fundamentally harming us all around the world, and we need to be careful about identifying and countering this kind of activity to support the provision of factual information to all people about Covid-19 and vaccines.”
When asked to comment on the article, the Kremlin spokesman again accused Britain of spreading misinformation about the Russian vaccine, suggesting it is evidence of unfair competition in the vaccine race.
“Russia already has documents that intend to sell or jointly produce this vaccine in a number of countries, and of course Russia in these countries does not shy away from informing [the public] about the benefits of our vaccine, “said Peskov. A number of [producers] there could be called competitions, they are the ones dealing with disinformation, the disinformation agents are sitting in the UK among others. ”
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 developing their own vaccines. Until today, the Russian Sovereign Wealth Fund (or RDIF), which sponsors the vaccine, said it reached an offer to supply Sputnik V to, among others, India and Brazil.
RDIF said it condemned social media attacks on the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“We condemn the social media posts aimed at degrading the AstraZeneca vaccine described by The Times today. We believe that any attempt to deplete any vaccine is wrong, including those against Gamaleya’s Sputnik V vaccine,” he said. Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of RDIF, told CNN in a statement Friday. “All vaccines should, of course, be subjected to the most rigorous scientific examination.”
However, the story of the “abevaccine” has been put forward by Russian officials and the state media before.
On September 9, following the news of a break in AstraZeneca’s global trial due to an unexplained disease, Dmitry Peskov said the British vaccine is less safe as it is a “monkey vaccine”, while the Russian development is a “human vaccine” and is believed to be “much more reliable” by Russian researchers.
Raw images showing monkeys with captions like “Monevaccine is fine” and similar memes have appeared on Russian state media two days after AstraZeneca announced the break. On September 10, the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti published an editorial entitled “Why the West loses the vaccine race: Russia has been exposed”, which contained four caricatures of the monkey vaccine with English captions.
AstraZeneca has since resumed trials in the UK. In the United States, the FDA is considering whether to restart AstraZeneca after a participant became ill. It is a question of whether the disease was a fluke or whether it may have been 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 was “happy” to see the AstraZeneca trials moving forward, but called the approach “unacceptable” because of “excessive confidence”. to new unconfirmed technologies, “including the use of an abenadovirus vector or mRNA technology.
In July, however, RDIF announced that one of its portfolio companies, the pharmaceutical manufacturer R-Pharm, had reached an agreement with AstraZeneca to produce the Oxford vaccine in Russia. The announcement came after warnings that Russia-affiliated actors were trying to hack British, US and Canadian research centers to gather intelligence on vaccine production. Russia denied any involvement.
RDIF chief Kirill Dmitriev told Reuters at the time that Moscow did not need to steal any secrets as it already had an agreement with AstraZeneca to manufacture the potential British vaccine in Russia.
“The transfer of the cell line and the adenovirus vector to Russia has been completed. 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 delivery of the vaccine to international markets.”
Asked on Friday whether AstraZeneca’s break in testing and technology threatens the deal with a Russian manufacturer, Dmitriev said: “One of our portfolio companies manufactures the AstraZeneca vaccine. We believe that both human adenoviral vector approaches, such as Sputnik V uses, and the chimpanzee adenoviral vector approach used by AstraZeneca are both very promising approaches based on solid scientific evidence. ”
Gamaleya uses adenovirus in their Covid-19 vaccines; this is the same approach used in the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca. The adenovirus supplies genetic material to the tip protein, which sits on top of the virus that causes Covid-19, and that genetic material is designed to generate an immune response to the virus.
Adenovirus can cause a variety of symptoms, including colds. The researchers manipulate the virus so that it does not replicate and cause disease.
The Gamaleya vaccine is given in two doses and each dose uses a different adenovirus vector.
Russia registered its first coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, in August after testing it on 76 volunteers and prior to major Phase 3 trials. The announcement drew great fanfare from Russian state media, but widespread skepticism from the international community regarding its security, and the notion that the approval could have been hastened by political goals. Sputnik V is now in its Phase 3 trial, which so far involved 13,000 people and tried to sign up to 40,000, according to Russian officials.
AstraZeneca launched large clinical phase 3 trials in humans in August with a view to enrolling up to 30,000. Such tests are the final step before a vaccine manufacturer seeks regulatory approval.
Another EpiVacCorona vaccine developed by a former Biochemical Weapons Laboratory Vector was registered in Russia this week before Phase 3 trials. The third potential Russian vaccine from the Chumakov Institute started Phase I trials last week.