Thursday, 29 October 2020
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Russia says deal to make UK-developed vaccine is on

MOSCOW: Russia will unveil a deal with AstraZeneca to manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine being developed by the pharmaceuticals giant and Oxford University, its wealth fund head said on Friday, adding this showed Moscow had no need to steal vaccine data.

Britain, Canada and the United States said on Thursday that hackers backed by the Russian state were trying to steal COVID-19 vaccine and treatment research from academic and pharmaceutical institutions around the world, allegations the Kremlin denied.

Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, said in an interview that Moscow did not need to steal secrets as it already had a deal with AstraZeneca to manufacture the potential British vaccine in Russia.

“AstraZeneca already has an agreement…. with R-Pharm (a Russian portfolio company) on the complete localisation and production of the Oxford vaccine in Russia,” said Dmitriev.

The deal could be formally announced later on Friday, he said. “There s nothing that needs to be stolen,” Dmitriev, who is involved in coordinating Russia s own vaccine push, told Reuters. “It s all going to be given to Russia.”

AstraZeneca did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but said last month it was in talks with Russia and other countries about supply deals for its potential coronavirus vaccine.

Dmitriev said Russia s acquisition of the British-developed vaccine was designed to complement, not replace its own homegrown vaccine which is the one that Moscow is focusing on developing.

Western allegations that Moscow was trying to steal vaccine secrets looked like an attempt to undermine the credibility of Russia s own vaccine, he said, describing it as one of the world s most promising, together with the Oxford vaccine and a Chinese-developed one.

“Those attacks show that other countries are not having an open approach, they are not happy for the Russian vaccine to succeed, and they are jealous of the Russian vaccine possibly being the first one and possibly being more efficient than others,” he said.

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