Russia has reportedly claimed to get the first domestic vaccine against novel coronavirus ready.
All the volunteers who received the vaccine have developed immunity against the deadly virus, news agency Tass reports quoting Russian First Deputy Defense Minister Ruslan Tsalikov.
“Thus, the first domestic vaccine against a new coronavirus infection is ready,” he said in an interview with Argumenty i Fakty newspaper, seeming to overlook the 3rd phase of clinical trials.
The scientists of the Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology and military specialists prepared the vaccine.
In the interview with Moscow -based AiF, Tsalikov said the phase-2 trial of the vaccine ended on Monday with the volunteers feeling fine. He, however, did not reveal any information over phase-3 trials or any timeframe for beginning its production.
Meanwhile, a former executive of Vector, a state-run virology center, expressed dissatisfaction over the announcement.
Sergey Netesof, the former executive, said the third phase has not started yet, or even been announced. The reason they’re in such a rush is completely incomprehensible, reports another Russian news agency Interfax.
Earlier, Russian Direct Investment Fund CEO Kirill Dmitrievis disclosed that the army was developing a vaccine with the state-run Gamaleya Institute in Moscow and the Russian Direct Investment Fund.
Phase 3 trials, which will include thousands of people in Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are scheduled to begin August 3 and distribution of the vaccine could start as early as September, he added.
Russia’s ambassador to Britain has rejected allegations against his country’s intelligence services for hacking information about a coronavirus vaccine.
Andrei Kelin said in a BBC interview broadcast on Sunday that there was “no sense” in the allegations made last week by the United States, Britain and Canada, reports AP.
“I don’t believe in this story at all, there is no sense in it,” he said when asked about the allegations.
“I learned about their (the hackers) existence from British media. In this world, to attribute any kind of computer hackers to any country, it is impossible."
Intelligence agencies in the US, Britain and Canada on Thursday accused the hacking group APT29 — also known as Cozy Bear and believed to be part of Russian intelligence — of using malicious software to attack academic and pharmaceutical research institutions involved in COVID-19 vaccine development.
It was unclear whether any useful information was stolen.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also said that “Russian actors” had tried to interfere in last year’s general election by “amplifying” stolen government papers online.
Kelin said that his country had no interest in interfering in British domestic politics.
“I do not see any point in using this subject as a matter of interference,” he said.
“We do not interfere at all. We do not see any point in interference because for us, whether it will be (the) Conservative Party or Labour’s party at the head of this country, we will try to settle relations and to establish better relations than now.”
Raab said Sunday that Britain will work with its allies to call Russia out on its “reprehensible behaviour” and make sure research organisations know “so that they can better defend against it.”
The allegations came days before the British parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee prepares to release a long-awaited report on Russian interference in British politics.
Britain, the United States and Canada on Thursday accused Russia on Thursday of trying to steal information from researchers seeking a COVID-19 vaccine.
The three nations alleged that hacking group APT29, also known as Cozy Bear and said to be part of the Russian intelligence service, is attacking academic and pharmaceutical research institutions involved in coronavirus vaccine development.
Britain’s National Cybersecurity Centre made the announcement, which was coordinated with authorities in the U.S. and Canada.
“It is completely unacceptable that the Russian Intelligence Services are targeting those working to combat the coronavirus pandemic,'' British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement.
“While others pursue their selfish interests with reckless behaviour, the U.K. and its allies are getting on with the hard work of finding a vaccine and protecting global health.''
The persistent and ongoing attacks are seen by intelligence officials as an effort to steal intellectual property, rather than to disrupt research.
The campaign of “malicious activity'' is ongoing and includes attacks “predominantly against government, diplomatic, think-tank, healthcare and energy targets,'' the National Cybersecurity Centre said in a statement.
It was unclear whether any information actually was stolen but the center says individuals’ confidential information is not believed to have been compromised.
The Russian Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Cozy Bear, also known as the “dukes,″ has been identified by Washington as one of two Russian government-linked hacking groups that broke into the Democratic National Committee computer network and stole emails ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
The other group is usually called Fancy Bear.
The director of operations for the British cybersecurity center, Paul Chichester, urged “organizations to familiarize themselves with the advice we have published to help defend their networks.”
The statement did not say whether Russian President Vladimir Putin knew about the vaccine research hacking, but British officials believe such intelligence would be highly prized.
A 16-page advisory prepared by the U.S. National Security Agency and made public by Britain, the U.S. and Canada on Thursday accuses Cozy Bear of using custom malicious software to target a number of organizations globally.
The malware, called WellMess and WellMail, has not previously been associated with the hacking group, the advisory said.
More than 50 countries have submitted requests to Russia for procuring the Russian-made anti-coronavirus drug Avifavir.
Head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) Kirill Dmitriev made this statement in his column for the Newsweek magazine, reports TASS.
Russia's neighbours Belarus and Kazakhstan have already bought the drug, he said.
Besides, more than 50 countries including Colombia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Peru have submitted purchase requests, said Dmitriev.
The production of Avifavir has been increased to 300,000 courses a month, to supply both local and international demand, added the official.
So far, over 13 million confirmed COVID-19 cases have been reported globally, with over 570,000 fatalities and more than 7.2 million recoveries as of Tuesday, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University.
Coronavirus cases were first reported in China in December last year.
The government of Russia expects that the country will have at least three or four effective vaccines for the coronavirus.
Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko made the disclosure in a televised interview on the Russian channel Rossiya’24 on Thursday, reports news agency Tass.
"I think that a bit fewer number of vaccines will make it up to industrial production, but we expect that at least three to four vaccines will be available on the territory of the Russian Federation," he said.
The minister had earlier announced to have 17 promising vaccines for the coronavirus in the country.
As of Friday, Russia has recorded 707,301 confirmed cases from coronavirus, with 481,316 patients having recovered from the disease.
Russia’s latest data indicates 10,843 fatalities nationwide. Earlier, the Russian government set up an Internet hotline to keep the public updated on the coronavirus situation.