Disinfo: WHO says that the Sputnik V vaccine is in Phase 3 of clinical testing

Summary

On August 20, the World Health Organisation recognised around 140 projects to fight Covid-19, but only a handful of them are on Phase 3, which is the clinical testing in humans at a massive scale. One of them is the Sputnik V.

Disproof

The claim is false. On August 20th 2020, the World Health Organisation published a landscape of COVID-19 candidate vaccines that considered the Russian project developed by Gamaleya Research Institute (registered as Sputnik V) as being still in Phase 1 of clinical testing. The WHO initiated talks with Russian authorities about undertaking a review of the vaccine, though it refused to endorse it right away and expressed some reservations about the procedure followed by Russia given that the country hasn’t completed large trials to test the vaccine’s safety and efficacy and experts consider that rolling out an inadequately vetted vaccine could endanger people who receive it. This is part of a Russian disinformation campaign on the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine launched after the announcement of its registration was met with scepticism and criticism, even by Russian specialists in the country. See other examples in our database, such as claims that the WHO and Microsoft sabotaged it, that the West criticized it because it can’t accept Russia’s primacy or that Bloomberg affirmed that this vaccine makes Putin the protector of the people.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 209
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 20/08/2020
  • Outlet language(s) Spanish, Castilian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: Russia
  • Keywords: coronavirus, vaccination, WHO
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Lithuania-trained mercenaries preparing coup d'etat in Belarus

A new training center created in Lithuania (Pabradė) with the assistance of the U.S. military to help with organizing protests in Belarus. It is planned to finance the training of contractors using the fund created to help protesters in Belarus. A new fundraising campaign has been announced by Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius on Twitter. The funds will be used to help injured protesters, to purchase the necessary equipment, uniforms and gear for combat training. The training of the groups will be carried out by the U.S. military instructors. The Ministry of National Defence of the Republic of Lithuania provides comprehensive logistics support for training. According to the Lithuanian Ministry of Defence, the U.S. instructors demonstrated a wide range of required skills during Exercise Griffin Strike 2020/Hunter 2020 held at the Lithuanian Armed Forces General Silvestras Žukauskas Training Area in Pabradė on August 2-14. The groups are planned to transfer to the territory of Belarus in the near future to provide assistance to the opposition supporters in order to coordinate and directly participate in the protest movement in this country.

Disproof

The story advances recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives about US presence in Europe and protests in Belarus. The article cites an April 2015 Facebook post about a US Army military showcase which happened to be held at the Pabrade Training Area. Pabrade hosts a Lithuanian military training ground, where various national and international exercise take place. The story draws a fictitious link between plans by Poland and Lithuania to offer assistance to Belarusian protesters and the supposed effort to train and arm the anti-Lukashenka opposition. It cites this report, which states that both countries are ready to provide "the victims of repressions" with medical assistance and political asylum, as well as to fund Belarus-based independent media and NGOs. Neither "uniforms and gear for combat training" nor the US military are mentioned. Lastly, the statement by the Lithuanian Defence Ministry was dedicated entirely to the aims and conduct of the Griffin Strike/Hunter 2020 manoeuvres, in which both Lithuanian and US troops participated. The press release mentions neither "US instructors" nor Belarus.

Belarus mobilised its air force fearing an imminent NATO invasion

Belarus put its combat planes Su-30SM on alert due to fears of a NATO invasion. The minister of Defence of the country reported that fighters took off from one of the airbases of the country, and this is due to a foreign invasion by NATO. Independent analysts pointed out that there is no other reason for patrolling the border. Finally, the NATO planes didn’t show up, fearing that this provocation may lead Russia to adopt similar measures, and today Eastern Europe is not ready for any conflict with Russia, even an insignificant one.

Disproof

Contrary to the claim, according to Belarusian media and authorities, the reported mobilisation of combat planes was part of a scheduled combat training exercise, not because the Belarusian government feared any external military aggression. There is no reason for NATO, a collective defence organisation, to launch an invasion of Belarus. This is part of a Russian disinformation campaign on post-electoral events in Belarus, merged with recurrent pro-Kremlin narratives portraying NATO as an ever-aggressive organisation and Russia as a mighty military power. See other examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives in Belarus, such as claims that the EU reaction to Lukashenko’s victory is an example of Western double standards; that the same lack of democracy and repression is present in EU countries that criticise them in Minsk; that the arrest of Russian mercenaries in Belarus was a Ukrainian provocation, and the Ukrainian secret services may have planned terrorist attacks on Belarusian territory; that the West wants to prepare another Maidan in the country; or that Belarusians, Ukrainians and Russians are one single nation.

The Pentagon purchased equipment for secret biolaboratories for millions of dollars

The Pentagon buys test equipment for Armenia, Georgia and Moldova. The supplier of the goods is a manufacturer of radiation, chemical and biological reconnaissance and control devices for the US Army. On 14 August, the Pentagon’s procurement department signed contracts for the manufacture and supply of special equipment for the Agency for Reducing Threats to National Defence in Armenia, Georgia and Moldova for $ 535,000, $ 962,000 and $ 115,000. This confirms the fact that around the borders of the Russian Federation and around the world, the United States carries out military biological activities. Even the ex-Minister of State Security for Georgia, Igor Giorgadze, talked about equipment for spraying harmful substances with biologically active material. There are secret laboratories in Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Armenia, Tajikistan.

Disproof

Recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the alleged existence of US secret military laboratories near Russia’s borders, in this case in Ukraine, Georgia and other countries. In fact, biological laboratories in Ukraine, Georgia and other countries are involved in preventing the risks of complex diseases and, together with other similar projects, counteracting bioterrorism. The System for Award Management of the US government does indeed contain contractsfor chemical and pharmaceutical products and manufacturing machinery. However, the contracts nowhere say that this equipment will be sent to the scientific laboratories of Armenia, Georgia or Moldova - this is another conspiracy theory of the Russian media. The U.S. Department of Defence's biological threat program isworking in Ukraine to ensure the safe storage of pathogens while conducting peaceful research and developing vaccines. The agreement establishing the Science and Technology Centre in Ukraine was signed by Canada, Sweden, Ukraine and the United States on25 October 1993.In addition to Ukraine, Azerbaijan, the European Union, Georgia, Moldova, the USA and Uzbekistan alljoined the agreement. All data on the mission of international scientific cooperation are in the public domain, and information on scientific and technical laboratories is not "secret". The Ukrainian Security Service urged peoplenot to spread fake news about the alleged presence of American military biological laboratories on the territory of Ukraine. The US Embassy in Ukraine has repeatedly denied the "creation of military biological laboratories" in Ukraine. In 2018, there was a big scandal related to the Georgian scientific laboratory. Then the ex-Minister of State Security of Georgia Igor Giorgadze at a conference in Moscow said that he had received "from friends" documents showing that in Georgia, allegedly, "secret experiments could be carried out on residents." But BBC journalists conducted a large-scale investigation, which proved that all the information spread by the Kremlin about the work of the Georgian technical centre was fake, and Giorgadze himself retracted his words, saying that "he has no evidence of lethal tests in the Lugar laboratory near Tbilisi."