Russian intelligence used fake news websites to spread misinformation about vaccines: Report

WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Published: Mar 08, 2021, 09.28 AM(IST)

File photo Photograph:( Reuters )

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According to the report, the false information pertains to the efficacy of the vaccines, while highlighting how the vaccines had been rushed for approvals in the US

Russian intelligence agencies have been spreading misleading or false information about COVID-19 vaccines, reports claim. Four online publications with links to Russia's intelligence agencies have been propagating false information, The Wall Street Journal reported citing US Department of State's official.

The four online publications are Oriental Review, News Front, New Eastern Outlook, and Rebel Inside. The publications have focused on the side effects caused by Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, along with jabs made by other major Western companies. 

According to the report, the false information pertains to the efficacy of the vaccines, while highlighting how the vaccines had been rushed for approvals in the US.

Even though the sites do not have a large pool of audiences, officials claim that their stories are picked up by international media regularly.

The websites lay bare side effects caused by the vaccines, which have remained consistently rare while failing to provide accurate information about how the vaccines continue to remain safe for most people.

An official for the State Department told the Wall Street Journal that Russian intelligence services bear "direct responsibility" for employing the four platforms to spread "propaganda and lies''.

Also read: EU regulator urges caution on Sputnik V, Russia's coronavirus vaccine

Russia's state media, with its presence on Twitter, has been trying to improve the public perception surrounding Sputnik V, while discrediting Western vaccines.

In November, Russia claimed that its vaccine had over 90 per cent efficacy. Many still feel that more trials need to be undertaken to ascertain this. Even then, The Lancet - a British medical journal reported that Sputnik V was safe and had 91 per cent efficacy.

Also read: Russia, Austria agree to talks on Sputnik V vaccine

A senior official of the European Medicine Agency (EMA) on Sunday urged European Union members to refrain from granting approval for Sputnik V, Russia's COVID-19 vaccine.

Currently, the agency is reviewing the safety and efficacy of the vaccine and has asked national approvals to not be handed out.

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