Disinfo: EU initiated negotiations with Russian vaccine manufacturer

Summary

The European Union has begun negotiations with the manufacturer of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.

Disproof

The headline and the introductory paragraph of this story are deliberately misleading. The articles themselves say that it was the developer of the vaccine, Russia’s Gamaleya Centre, who contacted the European Medicines Agency in order to start conversations, a fact that was confirmed by the European Commission at the request of Sputnik.

On 25 November, a considerable number of pro-Kremlin Russian-speaking outlets published near-identical articles to the effect that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) had initiated negotiations with Russia's Gamaleya Institute, the manufacturer of the Sputnik V vaccine. A similar story claiming that the EU announced contacts with Russia about the Sputnik V vaccine has also been spread across different language versions of Sputnik on the same day.

In fact, there are no "negotiations" under way between the EU and the vaccine manufacturer, nor did any EU institution approach any Russian drug company to discuss vaccines. According to the European Commission spokesman for health, it was Gamaleya which contacted the EMA and not the other way around, and the contacts between the two bodies have so far been limited to "preliminary discussions" on an unspecified subject. Any mention of these contacts has yet to appear on the EMA website.

Several Russian outlets went even further than merely claiming that the EU is "negotiating" with Russian vaccine developers. Thus Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Russia's state-owned newspaper of record, reports that the "negotiations" specifically concern "Sputnik V deliveries to Europe." The TV channel Tsargrad states that "Europe swallowed its pride and initiated negotiations" with Gamaleya. According to the Kadara.ru website, the EU launched the negotiations "on the sly," whereas Krasnaya Vesna writes that "the EU is considering the possibility of studying the Sputnik V vaccine."

The distortion is an attempt to boost the legitimacy of the Sputnik V vaccine by implying that the European Union and its high regulatory standards may be interested in it. These articles were published one day after the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund Kirill Dmitriev announced that Russia is discussing possible production of the Sputnik V vaccine in Germany and that RDIF expected a visit by a delegation from France the same week.

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  • Reported in: Issue 222
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 25/11/2020
  • Outlet language(s) Russian,
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: EU, Russia
  • Keywords: coronavirus, vaccination, Russian superiority
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