An employee holds a vial containing the Sputnik V vaccine against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) made with ingredients and technology provided by Russia at Brazilian pharmaceutical company Uniao Quimica in Guarulhos, Brazil, May 20, 2021.
Amanda Perubelli | Reuters
Russia has vigorously denied new accusations that Russian spies stole the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine “blueprint” and used it to create its own Sputnik V shot, with the head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund calling the allegations “scientific nonsense”.
There have been new reports in the British press this week claiming that British security services told British ministers that they had strong evidence that Russia stole the British-made vaccine blueprint and used it to create Sputnik V.
The Sun tabloid initially reported the allegations made by British security services although Downing Street declined to comment. This is not the first time that Russia has been accused of trying to steal and hack Covid vaccine data, but Moscow has repeatedly denied the accusations, and the RDIF called the latest report a “fake” and a “blatant lie”.
The head of the country’s sovereign wealth fund, RDIF, echoed that sentiment on Wednesday, calling the accusations “scientific nonsense.”
“There is no advantage [to these claims] “We are very clear about this,” Kirill Dmitriev told CNBC on Wednesday. “This report is complete scientific nonsense, it has no merit, and frankly it is a lie.”
Describing the report as “nonsense from anonymous sources”, Dmitriev said the latest accusations were part of a “smear campaign against Sputnik V because some politicians do not like Russia and because some big pharmaceutical companies, who fear the success of Sputnik V, continue to attack Sputnik V and Sputnik Lite.” [its one-dose booster shot] From day one, we are used to these attacks.”
Dmitriev insisted that the developers of Sputnik V wanted to partner with other vaccine producers and cited a joint clinical trial taking place with AstraZeneca (to determine if mixed doses of the Covid vaccine works), noting, “We believe in a common approach to working with other vaccines Sputnik V producers partner vaccines.” other”.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund, or RDIF, is one of the world’s leading sovereign funds with a reserved capital of $10 billion under its management. The fund supported the development of Russia’s main coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, which was the world’s first Covid vaccine to be licensed – by Russia – in August 2020.
The Sputnik V vaccine has been in doubt – first because of its clinical data and efficacy – and more recently, accusations about its origin and development.
An interim analysis of a phase 3 clinical trial of the dose, involving 20,000 participants and published in the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet in early February, found it was 91.6% effective against symptomatic Covid-19 infection.
However, the vaccine has not been authorized for use by the pharmaceutical authorities in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. The World Health Organization said it is still evaluating the vaccine but has not indicated if and when it will give the vaccine an emergency use list.
Not to be deterred, Russia has developed several other Covid vaccines and has since worked on a “Sputnik Light” single-shot vaccine designed to be used as a booster. In August, the RDIF said Sputnik Light had proven “highly effective against Covid among more than 320,000 people who had received the vaccine based on data collected by July 30, 2021”. It indicated an efficiency rate of 93.5%.
RDIF’s Dmitriev told CNBC that Russia expects approval of the Sputnik V vaccine by the end of 2021 and that he hopes the single-shot Sputnik Light will soon be used as a booster in conjunction with other vaccines.
“We have seen very positive signals from the World Health Organization recently and they really appreciate what we are doing… ‘Sputnik Light’ could be a booster for other vaccines like AstraZeneca and Moderna for many other vaccines, so we believe in a positive solution with WHO in Autumn… We definitely expect approval very soon.”