Russia is seeking bananas in an effort to undermine a coronavirus vaccine developed by Britain’s Oxford University – claiming it could turn humans into apes, the report said.
Videos, images and memes created in Russia have flooded social media to discredit the vaccine, which will be distributed by pharmaceutical giant Astrazeneca, by claiming it uses a chimpanzee virus as a vector, The Times of the UK reported.
The disinformation campaign targets Western countries and countries where Russia plans to sell its controversial COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik-V, which critics have expressed concern after Moscow quickly tracked it down before phase 3 in human trials, according to a human investigation. the newspaper.
“Misinformation is an obvious risk to public health,” said Astrazeneca chief Pascal Soriot. “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.”
A source from the UK government condemned the “reckless and contemptuous behavior” of those behind the efforts, which “could lead to real harm to human health”.
The source added: “This type of lie is fundamentally harmful to all of us around the world, and we need to be vigilant to identify and counter this type of activity to support the provision of factual information to all people about Covid-19 and vaccines.”
The Times said it had received the monkey work from someone involved in the disinformation campaign, who was concerned about its impact on public health efforts.
The rapporteur said that the main goal is to place memes on Western websites and in countries such as India and Brazil, where Russia is trying to launch Sputnik-V.
Although it is unclear whether the Kremlin has directly authorized the effort, there is evidence that some Russian officials were involved in its organization and distribution, the newspaper said.
But Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Tugendhat said he had no doubt that the Russian state was behind the campaign.
“Always the case. “Russia is a very centralized country and the idea that this will be done without the approval of someone close to us is ridiculous,” he told Times Radio.
Ken McCallum, head of Britain’s MI5 security service, said this week that his agency was involved in protecting British vaccine research from attacks.
“The global award for the first usable vaccine is great,” he added.
The disinformation campaign also targeted Russian state media, including Moscow’s Vesti Novini program, where some of the images appeared last month, The Times reported.
Reports of the effort reflect statements by senior Kremlin officials describing a “monkey vaccine” – in contrast to the Russian inoculation obtained from human adenovirus.
People are already hesitant to be stabbed when the new vaccines are released.
In August, surveys by King’s College London and Ipsos Mori found that one in six respondents said they definitely did not or would be unlikely to get a chance.
A new study in the United States found that only 70 percent of respondents are ready to be vaccinated – and about half want to wait until they are sure the vaccines are safe, according to The Times.
A spokesman for the Russian embassy told the newspaper: “The suggestion that the Russian state can conduct any kind of propaganda against the Astrazeneca vaccine is in itself an example of misinformation.
“It is clearly aimed at discrediting Russia’s efforts to combat the pandemic, including the good cooperation we have established with the United Kingdom in this area.”