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Kremlin slams Sun article claiming Russia stole AstraZeneca vaccine formula as ‘Deeply unscientific’

An article in the British tabloid The Sun, claiming that a Russian spy stole the formula for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for Moscow to use, is highly “unscientific”, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

“The Sun is a very well-known deeply unscientific newspaper. Well, we probably treat its publications as similarly unscientific”.

  • Dmitry Peskov – Kremlin Spokesman

The Sun published the article on 10 October, claiming the UK security services believe that a Russian spy “copied the blueprint” for the AstraZeneca COVID jab.

The newspaper did not reveal the source of its claims. Nor did it clarify what evidence allegedly led the British security services to suspect Russia of stealing the formula.

Only one vaccine uses the same principle as the AstraZeneca jab – the world’s first registered COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V.

Both drugs use a viral vector to deliver the DNA information about the coronavirus’ spike protein – a technology known to scientists for several decades and well-studied by specialists during the Soviet era and used in vaccines prior to Sputnik V in Russia.

At the same time, the two drugs use different viruses as their vector – while AstraZeneca’s jab uses a modified chimpanzee adenovirus, Sputnik V’s makers opted for a more studied human adenovirus.

Furthermore, the two drugs showed different efficacy levels in trials: the Russian drug reported 91.6% efficacy on average, while the British medication showed 81.3% efficacy.


Header: MOSCOW, RUSSIA – AUGUST 6, 2020: Ampoules contain a vaccine for COVID-19 developed by Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology under the Russian Healthcare Ministry. A two-component adenoviral vector-based vaccine, Gam-COVID-Vak was already available to public on January 1, 2021. Russian Direct Investment Fund and Gamaleya Research Center/TASS