Jealous Of China & Russia? – The West Accused Chinese Of Sabotaging And Russian Of Hacking Vaccine Research

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Jul 20 2020
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Hitting new records for the wrong reason appears to be the new normal in the U.S. The superpower reported 71,558 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, making it the second day in a row the nation seen more than 70,000 new infections. According to Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. leads the world in reported cases with a total of 3.66 million since the outbreak.


Almost all 50 states in America show increase in new cases, while hospitalizations are increasing in 33 states with 14 states hitting record highs in average current hospitalizations. On Saturday alone, Florida and Texas each reported more than 10,000 new cases. Nearly 140,000 deaths have been reported in the U.S., the country with the most fatalities in the world.


The situation in the U.S., the world’s largest economy, has become so much worse today than it was back in March so much so that President Donald Trump – reluctantly – has worn a face mask in public for the first time since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic. Still, the defiant U.S. president vows not to order Americans to wear masks.

President Donald Trump Wears Face Mask

Back in March, the world was working on at least 20 Coronavirus vaccines. Scientists, however, said the time consuming process of conducting clinical tests and safety approvals to produce vaccines at an industrial scale for the mass market could take up to 18 months. Even then, scientists did not reinvent the wheels, but were leveraging on two previous Coronavirus – SARS and MERS.


By May, there were at least 224 vaccines in development around the world – almost double the total of just a month ago. While the North American continent has the largest number of vaccine projects under development – 49% of the world’s total – China was well ahead in the race to find a vaccine, thanks to biotech firm CanSino Biologics and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology.


Other companies in the race included Sinovac Biotech (China), Pfizer and BioNTech (Germany), Moderna Pharmaceuticals (U.S.) and Oxford University and AstraZeneca (UK). Until a vaccine is developed, tested and proven, no one knows how long the virus will live with us. In fact, any company linked to vaccine development has seen its stock price hitting the roof.

Coronavirus - Vaccine

But geopolitical tensions and competitions have spilled into research and development of the vaccine. Some researchers and research institutions found that they could no longer freely share knowledge. Some governments reportedly have started tightening its grip on Covid-19 research findings. Scientists must get approval to publish their results, as politics interfere with science.


Obviously, the winner will be able to protect its own populations first and the patents could generate extraordinary revenues, not to mention having the upper hand in dealing with the economy, which is on the verge of collapse. In fact, there were naughty rumours that China had already developed the vaccine, but refuses to reveal it in order to bring the Western World to its knees.


Last month, China reportedly has approved a vaccine, but only for use within its military forces. Days ago, Sinopharm, whose Covid-19 inactivated vaccine candidates have been delivered into phase three clinical trials, have stored more than 4 million doses of the vaccines – suggesting that China, a laggard in the global vaccine industry, cannot be underestimated.

Coronavirus - China Sinopharm

But skepticism and pessimism of Chinese-developed Covid-19 vaccines have been raised in some Western news media, claiming that the Chinese communist government was hiding the side effect during its clinical trials. Not impressed that China is challenging the West’s traditional dominance of the industry, the Chinese inactivated vaccine technology was being questioned.


However, according to Minister of Science and Technology Wang Zhigang, China is currently developing vaccines in 5 categories – inactivated vaccines, recombinant protein vaccines, live attenuated influenza vaccines, adenovirus vaccines, and nucleic acid-based vaccines. Therefore, it’s not true that China were merely focussed on inactivated vaccine technology alone.


The perception appears that only the West has the capability, technology and knowledge to develop vaccines for Coronavirus. Last month, for example, Republican Senator Rick Scott’s wild allegation that he thinks China is actively working to disrupt the efforts of the U.S. and other western countries to develop the vaccine have upset the Chinese. Beijing challenged him to provide proof.

President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin - Toast

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying, challenged the U.S. Senator – “Since this lawmaker said he has evidence that China is trying to sabotage western countries in their vaccine development, then please let him present the evidence. There’s no need to be shy.” Beijing said once developed, China will distribute its Covid-19 vaccine fairly to everyone.


China was not alone in being looked down by the West. Fans of Cold War spy thrillers were entertained with a new allegation that Russian hackers (known as Dukes or Cozy Bear), working with a group called APT29 (part of Russian military intelligence), had used malware to try to steal vaccine research from the U.S., U.K. and Canada.


British Security Minister James Brokenshire said Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) was 95% sure that the Russian intelligence agencies were involved in the hacking and stealing information. Moscow, of course, has rubbished the allegations. Russia’s ambassador to the UK, Andrei Kelin, said there was no need to steal any information.

Coronavirus - British AstraZeneca Building

That’s because Russian pharmaceutical company R-Pharm had already signed a deal with AstraZeneca Plc to manufacture the vaccine being developed at the University of Oxford. Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO of Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), said AstraZeneca is transferring the entire technological process and all ingredients for the full reproduction of the vaccine in Russia.


Dmitriev said – “Everything that is needed to produce the British vaccine has already been transferred to R-Pharm. AstraZeneca has already signed commitments to transfer all production of the British vaccine to R-Pharm. There’s nothing that needs to be stolen. It’s all going to be given to Russia. They are jealous of the Russian vaccine possibly being the first one and possibly being more efficient than others.”


Apparently, Dmitriev also revealed that on top of Russia’s acquisition of the British-developed vaccine, Moscow is at the same time developing homegrown vaccines. In fact, Russia’s own vaccine is set for regulatory approval next month and could roll out for the Russian population as soon as September.

Coronavirus - Covid-19 in Moscow Russia

If what Dmitriev says is true and materialises, it would make it the first Covid-19 vaccine in the world to be approved. Although it could not be confirmed, Mr. Dmitriev, who has been injecting himself with the Russian vaccine, said he believed it was superior to others because its effect lasted longer. Still, some analysts have questioned Russia’s rush approach.


Interestingly, there are currently only two experimental Covid-19 vaccines in final Phase III trials – the Sinopharm (China) and another from AstraZeneca that has a deal with Russia. Indeed, the race to develop the first Coronavirus vaccine is like the contest for the moon. Expect the West to question the quality and safety issues of vaccines from China and Russia.


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