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Russia Trying To Steal COVID-19 Vaccine Data, Say UK, U.S. and Canada

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Hackers backed by the Russian state are trying to steal COVID-19 vaccine and treatment research from academic and pharmaceutical institutions around the world, according to Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre. 

A co-ordinated statement from Britain, the United States and Canada attributed the attacks to group APT29, also known as ‘Cozy Bear’, which they said was almost certainly operating as part of Russian intelligence services.

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Russia has developed its own vaccine and is using the Japanese drug alfavir to be exported to around 50 countries. The vaccine is to be placed on the market in the fall. 

So I don't really see the need to steal the Western vaccine



The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Russia's sovereign fund, has played a key role in the fight against coronavirus infection in the country. We learned about the threat through our network of international partnerships, worked with the government to assess this threat, and began investing in related projects.

Taking into account forecasts of an increase in the number of cases of the disease to a shocking figure of 100,000 people a day in countries such as the United States, it is important that we quickly, without losing a minute, develop verified solutions based on proven technologies. We believe that today RDIF has developed the key elements of such a practical solution.

As a result of working with some of the world's leading institutional investors, we selected and funded, in our opinion, the most promising testing systems, drugs, and covid-19 vaccines. Our hypotheses, analysis and approach may be useful for those who make key decisions about the choice of means to combat the virus.

There will be no miracles

We believe that a miraculous solution will not appear on its own, and the virus will not just disappear. New outbreaks prove that softening the rules of social distance leads to new waves of the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, lengthy, multi-year testing processes for vaccines and drugs will prevent significant hypothetical breakthroughs in the fight against the virus in the near future.

Therefore, we need to focus on the best existing solutions and scale them up in a short time with the help of international cooperation.

This seems obvious. However, the hope for a quick solution, the lack of in-depth analysis and growing mistrust between countries did not allow many states to follow this approach.

The hope that the threat of the spread of the virus will soon disappear has led many countries to relax restrictive measures too early, and companies have not invested enough in biosafety. News coverage of possible breakthroughs in the fight against the virus often does not mention the risks or the time required to obtain regulatory approvals. The hope for a magical solution overshadowed the proven existing solutions that can be implemented as soon as possible.

We have chosen a different approach. Thanks to cooperation with more than 15 partner funds at the international level, we have focused on three affordable solutions that will play an important role in defeating the coronavirus this year.

First of all, testing

Fast and accurate tests are the key to economic recovery. Only large-scale rigorous testing is able to resume economic activity, including international transport links.

We have developed a Russian-Japanese testing system under the EMG brand. Test results are available after 30 minutes, which is much faster compared to the 2.5 hours needed by other systems. And these results are no less accurate than the results of traditional PCR testing systems. Thus, our tests not only give results faster, but also increase the productivity of existing PCR equipment by 3-4 times.

Our testing system can be used not only in laboratories, but also in any other places, which allows for quick and accurate tests at airports, offices, factories, as well as before sports and entertainment events.

Our system has already helped to quickly detect and prevent potential outbreaks of coronavirus in many of the largest Russian industrial enterprises, as well as in offices and football matches. It is not surprising that other countries have purchased more than 13 million of our tests - this is more than a third of all tests performed in the USA.

Fast and accurate tests like ours will become a fundamentally important tool for restoring the global economy. They, for example, will greatly facilitate international air traffic. Soon, such tests will be used at airports around the world. Instead of being quarantined in Athens for 24 hours, travelers will be able to directly access the Greek islands through a test procedure that takes 30 minutes.

This decision will avoid losses of trillions of dollars. According to the UN Conference on Trade and Development, this year the world tourism industry will lose from 1.2 to 3.3 trillion US dollars. More than 120 million jobs can be lost in the tourism sector of the world alone, with additional indirect losses of around 1.25 billion jobs.

Since the cost of testing is only a tiny fraction of the possible economic losses, we are currently implementing pilot projects to create virus-free air transport hubs in three countries, which will allow us to safely restore tourist activity.

The second is medicine

In the field of treatment, the emphasis should be on the antiviral drugs available now, since they prevent the development of the virus in the early and middle stages, preventing the disease from flowing into a serious phase.

Investing in plasma-based drugs for the treatment of severe cases of covid-19 and in drugs that suppress the cytokine storm, we still focused on proven antiviral drugs, which, in our opinion, will be most effective in preventing the spread of the disease.

Remdesivir of the American company Gilead and Avifavir, which we created in Russia as an improved version of the Japanese drug against influenza Avigan, became the first officially approved drugs for treating coronavirus in the world.

These drugs will be the main means of reducing the duration of the infectious process and the length of hospital stay. They act directly on coronavirus using the well-known mechanism of inhibition of viral RNA polymerase, so their side effects are less. These side effects are even better understood than other broad-spectrum drugs. The main limitation is that Avifavir should not be taken by pregnant women or during pregnancy planning.

In clinical trials, we found that the effective dosage for the treatment of coronavirus should be higher than the dosage for the treatment of influenza. We also additionally cleaned the substance in order to be able to increase the dosage without side effects and applied for international patents for detected changes in the optimal dosage and treatment protocols.

In our clinical trials, in which 330 patients participated, more than 60% of those who took Avifavir had negative results for the coronavirus test on the fifth day, which is two times higher than in the group undergoing standard therapy. The average period of virus elimination from the body when taking Avifavir is 4 days, while with standard therapy it is 9 days. Thus, the period during which patients are contagious, as well as the duration of their hospitalization, is reduced. Three independent clinical trials in more than 700 patients, as well as the results of Avifavir treatment of tens of thousands of patients in Russia, confirmed the results of our studies.

While Remdesivir will not be exported for some time due to large-scale purchases by the US government, Avifavir is already supplied to the world market and its production has been increased to 300 thousand courses per month to satisfy both domestic and global demand.

Avifavir is bought not only by Russia's neighbors - Belarus and Kazakhstan - but also by Colombia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Peru and many others. Bids were sent by more than 50 countries.

Other drugs similar to Avifavir and based on the active ingredient favipiravir can also be produced by other countries, providing mass deliveries of the drug worldwide, which is especially beneficial, since these generics are several times cheaper than Remdesivir. After we demonstrated the effectiveness of the drug, two more drugs produced on the basis of the same substance were produced in Russia. The drug based on favipiravir passed registration in India, and the Turkish Minister of Industry announced that favipiravir will be registered in this country soon, calling this event "a source of pride and joy."

In addition, Avifavir is available in tablet form. It is easier for the population to get them, since they can be sold in pharmacies as prescription drugs, unlike Remdesivir, which is injected in hospitals.

Third - vaccines

It is very difficult to choose from more than 140 vaccines currently being developed, more than 20 of which are at different stages of clinical trials. So far, no vaccine in the world has been officially approved before after 4 years of testing.

Nevertheless, our analysis shows that the adenovirus-based vaccines that will receive official approval in September this year will be the first to appear on the market. They inject the coronavirus spike gene into the human body through a proven adenovirus-based delivery mechanism.

Adenoviral vector vaccines have been developed since the 1980s. They have already received official approval and are being used effectively against Ebola. Vaccines against MERS, Zika virus, influenza and malaria successfully pass clinical trials.

Promising vaccines based on mRNA and other innovative methods are also being developed that, hopefully, will work sooner or later. Despite the fact that mRNA is a remarkable new technology, not a single vaccine based on it has received official approval for the fight against viral infections.

Even if the development of a vaccine based on mRNA is accelerated as much as possible, it will not be approved until 2021, as comprehensive safety testing is required. In particular, it involves checking the impact on fertility - one of the main parameters for countries planning large-scale vaccinations.

Three vaccines based on adenoviral vectors have already shown high results at the first stage of clinical trials. They are developed by the Russian Institute. N.F. Gamalei, University of Oxford in collaboration with Astra Zeneca and Chinese company CanSino Biologics. We believe that all three will be needed.

I am sure of the Russian vaccine, the vaccine of which I myself received. I developed stable immunity after 20 days, even before the injection of the second maintenance dose, which should extend the immunity to two years.

Soon, others will be able to do the same. Thanks to the production of this vaccine through partnerships in several countries, we will be able to expand its production to 200 million doses by the end of the year.

According to our estimates, in 2021 more than three billion doses of vaccines based on adenoviral vectors will be produced, which will allow the world to effectively fight coronavirus. The Russian vaccine will also be delivered with a unique patented test, which identifies special antibodies in the human body that attack the spine-shaped processes of the coronavirus. Thus, the effect of the vaccine and its duration of action will be easy to determine by measuring the increase in the number of the most effective antibodies to coronavirus.

The most important thing is international cooperation

It's time to stop the endless debate about the most effective measures to combat coronavirus. They endanger life and the global economy. It is not too late, the countries of the world should jointly apply the best international practices, including the mandatory wearing of masks, maintaining social distance and sharing solutions that are available now.

Our foundation cooperates with many states in this area. We are confident that it is possible to deal effectively with the current and future pandemics only with the joint efforts of the entire world community.



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Debates about "stealing" a vaccine are deeply moronic in nature. Any health professional will tell you that it's in the best interest of everybody on the planet that the medications and vaccines should be given to those who need it, as opposed to those who wave the biggest money bundle, otherwise the whole pandemic will be even more costly and painful than it already is. 

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8 hours ago, Yoshiro Kamamura said:

Debates about "stealing" a vaccine are deeply moronic in nature. Any health professional will tell you that it's in the best interest of everybody on the planet that the medications and vaccines should be given to those who need it, as opposed to those who wave the biggest money bundle, otherwise the whole pandemic will be even more costly and painful than it already is. 

Um, no: period full stop.  Resources get allocated efficiently and effectively because of profit motive not because a government bureaucrat mandated it.  Without a profit motive the time for a vaccine to be developed would be far longer at that period would cause more harm. 

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For six months, 19.766 thousand people died in the Russian Federation, whose death was directly or indirectly determined by the coronavirus, Rosstat reported today. The number of such deaths in June was 8,436 thousand, in another 3,481 cases the coronavirus was diagnosed, but did not affect the onset of death. Although the June indicator turned out to be lower than that of May, it may be too early to talk about the beginning of a decrease in the number of deaths. It may be revised for the next batch of statistics - this has already happened with the data for April and May.

At the end of the first half of 2020, mortality in the Russian Federation increased by 3.1% compared to the same period last year, and the mortality rate increased from 12.6 to 13. This follows from Rosstat data on the natural movement of the population, taking into account the birth rate and mortality, which the department published today. According to Rosstat estimates, in the first half of 2020 the number of deaths amounted to 946 thousand 539 people, and for the same period last year - 918 thousand 503 people. In June this year, 162 thousand 758 people died in the country, while in June 2019 - only 137 thousand 237 people.

Among those who died in June, 5.448 thousand people died directly from the coronavirus, and another 1.399 thousand died from complications caused by the virus.

In 1,589 thousand cases, COVID-19 is assumed as the main cause of death, but its effect on the death of a patient is still being analyzed by doctors with the help of additional medical research. In another 3,481 cases, the coronavirus was diagnosed, but did not affect the onset of death.

Thus, in June the number of deaths directly or indirectly caused by the virus amounted to 8,436 thousand, which is lower than in May (9,218 thousand). The number of such deaths in April is 2,095 thousand, in March, the first month of the coronavirus epidemic in the Russian Federation, 17 people. As a result, since the beginning of the epidemic in the Russian Federation, 19.766 thousand people have died from coronavirus or from an exacerbation of other diseases against its background. Their deaths explain most of the excess of the total number of deaths for this six months over the indicator for the same period last year (28.036 thousand people).

Note that, although the indicator of the number of deaths in connection with the coronavirus in June was less than May, it may be too early to talk about a trend towards a decrease in the number of deaths.

Earlier, similar indicators for April were already revised by the department upward after the publication of the first estimates of the natural movement of the population, in the current summary the same thing happened with the number of deaths in May (9.218 thousand instead of 8.974 thousand). Therefore, it will be possible to more accurately assess the dynamics of the number of deaths over several months only in September.




The number of deaths of patients with coronavirus in Russia in June was 11,917, follows from the data on the Rosstat website . Earlier, the head of the department, Pavel Malkov, reported that in May the number of deaths from COVID-19 was 12,452.

"Rosstat continues to keep statistics on deaths from coronavirus infection, highlighting four groups of deaths of people diagnosed with COVID-19," the statement said.

According to Rosstat, in June 2020, the coronavirus:

in 5448 cases became the main cause of death;

1589 cases are assumed to be the leading cause of death, but test results are still under investigation;

in 1399 cases, influenced the development of other diseases and contributed to the appearance of complications that hastened the death of the patient;

in 3481 cases was diagnosed, but in no way affected the onset of death.

It is noted that in June, the number of deaths from coronavirus decreased in the regions that were the first to be hit by the epidemic. “In particular, 1329 cases were recorded in Moscow in June when COVID-19 became the main cause of death. In May, there were 2324 such cases (a decrease of 42.8%). The cases when COVID-19 influenced the development of other diseases and contributed to the emergence of complications that accelerated the death of a patient were recorded in Moscow in June 784, and in May - 980 (a decrease of 20%), ”the Federal State Statistics Service said.

Recall, according to the latest data from the operational headquarters, more than 877 thousand people have been infected with the coronavirus in Russia , 14 725 patients have died.


Its from Kommersant - russian leading liberal economic newspapaper in Russia.

Edited by Tomasz

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