“Commenting on the accusations against Russia is becoming more and more circus,” Peskov told reporters in a conference call on Friday. “Russia does not misinform anyone, Russia proudly talks about its successes and Russia shares its successes with regard to the first ever registered [coronavirus] vaccine in the world. ”
“We know that Russia has experience in this area. We have previously commented and called on them to do so,” 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. This is unacceptable and unjustified under any circumstances.”
The Times said a “whistleblower” involved in the campaign had “handed over images of the newspaper concerned about potential damage to public health efforts. The newspaper noted that it was unclear whether the campaign was directly authorized by the Kremlin, but added that “there is evidence that some Russian officials were involved in its organization and distribution.”
“Misinformation is a clear risk to public health. This is especially true during the current pandemic, which continues to take tens of thousands of lives, significantly disrupt our way of life and harm the economy,” said Pascal Sorio, CEO of AstraZeneca statement.
“I urge everyone to use reliable sources of information, to trust regulatory agencies and to remember the enormous benefits of vaccines and medicines that they continue to bring to humanity.”
Disinformation is “reckless and contemptuous behavior that can lead to real harm to human health,” said a source in Whitehall, the central London area where key UK ministries are located. “This kind of lie is fundamentally harmful to all of us around the world, and we need to be vigilant to identify and counter 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, a Kremlin spokesman, in turn, accused the United Kingdom of spreading misinformation about the Russian vaccine, suggesting it was evidence of unfair competition in the vaccine competition.
“Russia already has documents of intent to sell or co-produce this vaccine in a number of countries and, of course, in those countries, Russia has not shied away from informing [the public] about the benefits of our vaccine, “Peskov said.” A number [producers] which could be called competitions, they are the ones dealing with misinformation, the 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 is trying to market its own vaccine,” as well as Western countries that are developing their own vaccines. To date, the Russian state welfare fund (or RDIF), which sponsors the vaccine, has said it has reached deals to supply Sputnik V, among others.
RDIF says it condemns the social media attacks against the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“We condemn the social media posts aimed at tarnishing the AstraZeneca vaccine described by The Times today. We believe that all attempts to spread any vaccine are wrong, including those against Gamalea’s Sputnik V vaccine,” said Kiril Dmitriev, executive director of RDIF at CNN in a statement Friday. “All vaccines, of course, must be subject to the most rigorous scientific research.”
However, the story of the “monkey vaccine” has been voiced by Russian authorities and state media before.
On September 9, following news of a pause in AstraZeneca’s global trials due to an unexplained illness, Dmitry Peskov said the British vaccine was less safe because it was a “monkey vaccine”, while the Russian development was a “human vaccine” and was thought to be to be “much more reliable” than Russian scientists.
Rough images depicting monkeys with captions such as “The monkey vaccine is okay” and similar memes appeared in 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 is Losing the Vaccine Competition: Russia is Exposed,” which contained four cartoons of the monkey vaccine in English.
Since then, AstraZeneca has resumed testing in the UK. In the United States, the FDA is considering allowing AstraZeneca to restart its process after a participant becomes ill. The question is whether the disease was accidental or perhaps related to the vaccine.
The head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which sponsored the development of Sputnik V, said in September that the company was “pleased” to see that AstraZeneca’s trials were moving forward, but called the approach “unacceptable” due to “excessive reliance on new untested technologies.” “including the use of monkey adenovirus vector or mRNA technology.
In July, however, RDIF announced that one of its portfolio companies, drug maker R-Pharm, had struck a deal with AstraZeneca to produce the Oxford vaccine in Russia. The announcement came after warnings that Russian-linked participants were trying to hack research centers based in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada to gather information about vaccine production. Russia has denied any involvement.
At the time, RDIF chief Kirill Dmitriev told Reuters that Moscow did not need to steal any secrets, as it already had a deal with AstraZeneca to produce the potential British vaccine in Russia.
“The transfer of the cell line and the adenoviral vector to Russia has taken place; it is planned to produce the antigen here and obtain ready doses,” R-Pharm said in a statement in July. “At the same time, Russia will be one of the centers for the production and supply of the vaccine on international markets.”
Asked Friday to comment on whether AstraZeneca’s pause in experiments and technology jeopardizes a deal with a Russian manufacturer, Dmitriev said: “One of our portfolio companies produces the AstraZeneca vaccine. We believe that both the human adenoviral vector approach that Sputnik V uses and the approach of the chimpanzee adenoviral vector used by AstraZeneca are very promising approaches based on a solid scientific basis. ”
Gamaleya uses adenoviruses in its 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 for the protein that is on top of the virus that causes Covid-19, and this genetic material is designed to generate an immune response to the virus.
Adenoviruses can cause a variety of symptoms, including the common cold. Researchers are manipulating the virus so that it does not multiply and cause disease.
Gamaleya vaccine is given in two doses and each dose uses a different adenoviral vector.
Russia registered its first Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in August after testing it on 76 volunteers and before large-scale phase 3 studies. The message came very loudly from Russian state media, but sparked widespread skepticism from the international community about its safety and the idea. that approval can be hastened by political goals. According to Russian authorities, Sputnik V is in process stage 3, in which 13,000 people have participated so far and seek to include up to 40,000 people.
AstraZeneca began large-scale phase 3 clinical trials in August to include up to 30,000. Such trials are the final step before the vaccine manufacturer seeks regulatory approval.
Another EpiVacCorona vaccine, developed by the 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 began phase I trials last week.