The global race among multiple nations to be the first to produce a coronavirus vaccine – especially the US, China, and Russia – has sparked not just competition to see who’ll be first, but an information war in the wake of Moscow’s announced breakthrough COVID-19 vaccine this week.
The announcement of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya research institute with help from the Russian defense ministry and expected to be available to the Russian public by October almost immediately drew widespread scorn and mockery in the West based on allegations Russia is skipping large-scale clinical trials.
One Russian official told CNBC this week the US is waging “major information warfare” against the possibility of a successful Russia-produced vaccine.
Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund – which is backing the Sputnik V vaccine – said in comments Wednesday, “It really divided the world into those countries that think it’s great news … and some of the U.S. media and some U.S. people who actually wage major information warfare on the Russian vaccine.”
“We were not expecting anything else, we are not trying to convince the U.S. Our point to the world is that we have this technology, it can be available in your country in November/December if that works with your regulator … [while] people who are very skeptical will not have this vaccine and we wish them good luck in developing theirs,” he added.
Dmitriev claimed further that Russia does plan on sharing its data from the vaccine with the rest of the world, also at a moment World Health Organization officals said they wil move to review the COVID-19 vaccine candidate approved by Russian regulators on Tuesday. The WHO said it will require “a rigorous safety data review” before being available for use among citizens.
“We agree that nothing in detail has been published yet, we are just sending some information to some of our partners today on the results of the first phases of the clinical trials and it will all be published in August,” Dmitriev said.
Currently, a total of 165 candidate vaccines are being tested around the world, according to a WHO tally. 139 of these are still in pre-clinical evaluation, while 26 have progressed to various phases of human testing. The 6 market leaders have already reached Phase 3.