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Russia denies allegations of stealing the Covid vaccine blueprint

An employee holds a vial containing a Sputnik-V vaccine for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) made with ingredients and technologies supplied by Russia at the Brazilian pharmaceutical company Uniao Quimica in Guarulhos, Brazil, on May 20, 2021.

Amanda Perobelli | Reuters

Russia has vehemently denied new allegations that Russian spies stole the “blueprint” for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and made their own Sputnik-V shot from it, with the head of the Russian State Fund calling the claims “scientific nonsense”.

There were new reports in the UK press this week that UK security services had told UK ministers they had solid evidence that Russia stole the blueprint for the UK-made vaccine and used it to make Sputnik V.

The Sun tabloid initially covered the allegations made by British security services, although Downing Street refused to comment. It’s not the first time Russia has been accused of attempting to steal and hack Covid vaccine data, but Moscow has repeatedly denied the allegations, with RDIF calling the latest report a “fake” and a “blatant lie”.

The head of the country’s sovereign wealth fund, RDIF, reiterated this opinion on Wednesday, calling the allegations “scientific nonsense”.

“There is no merit [to these claims] and we are clear about it, “Kirill Dmitriev told CNBC on Wednesday.” This report is complete scientific nonsense, it has no justification and is, to be honest, a lie. “

Dmitriev described the report as “nonsense from anonymous sources”. continue to attack Sputnik V and Sputnik Light [its one-dose booster shot] from day one, so we’re used to these attacks, ”he told CNBC’s Street Signs Europe.

Insisting that the developers behind Sputnik V wanted to partner with other vaccine manufacturers, Dmitriev citing a joint clinical study with AstraZeneca (to see if mixed Covid vaccine doses work) and stated, “We believe in a common approach to work with other vaccines ”. Manufacturer and Sputnik V is a partner for other vaccines. “

What’s next

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) is one of the world’s leading sovereign wealth funds with $ 10 billion in capital under management. The fund supported the development of Russia’s premier coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, the world’s first Covid vaccine, approved by Russia in August 2020.

The Sputnik-V vaccine was the subject of suspicion – initially because of its clinical data and effectiveness – and most recently because of allegations about its origin and development.

An interim analysis of the Shot’s Phase 3 clinical trials, which included 20,000 participants and published in the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet in early February, found 91.6% of it against symptomatic Covid-19 infection was effective.

However, the vaccine has not been approved for use by drug regulators in the US, UK and EU. The World Health Organization has said it is still evaluating the vaccine but has not indicated if and when it could grant the emergency list for the shot.

In order not to be deterred, Russia has developed several other Covid vaccines and has since worked on a one-off “Sputnik Light” vaccine to be used as a booster. In August, RDIF said Sputnik Light “was shown to be highly effective against Covid among more than 320,000 subjects who received the vaccine, based on data collected as of July 30, 2021”. It reported an effectiveness rate of 93.5%.

RDIF’s Dmitriev told CNBC that Russia expects the Sputnik-V vaccine to be approved by the end of 2021 and that he hopes the one-off Sputnik Light could soon be used as a booster in conjunction with other vaccines.

“We have seen very positive signals from WHO lately and they really appreciate what we are doing … ‘Sputnik Light’ can strengthen other vaccines like AstraZeneca and Moderna for many other vaccines, so we believe in a very positive solution with the WHO already in the fall … we definitely expect a permit very soon, “he said.

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