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EU Blasts 'Manipulation' Of Vaccine Info by Russia, China

A nurse administers the Sputnik V vaccine to a patient in Nagykanizsa, Hungary, on April 13.
A nurse administers the Sputnik V vaccine to a patient in Nagykanizsa, Hungary, on April 13.

The European Union says that China and Russia have intensified "state-sponsored disinformation" campaigns denigrating Western-developed COVID-19 vaccines while promoting their own.

"The so-called 'vaccine diplomacy' follows a zero-sum game logic" that seeks to "undermine trust in Western-made vaccines, EU institutions, and Western/European vaccination strategies," a report from the strategic communications branch of the EU's external action service said on April 28.

It said that Russian media, authorities, and state companies had united behind pushing the Sputnik V vaccine while using "antagonistic messaging" to accuse the EU of "sabotaging" the Russian jab.

The report said that part of the campaign was to sow distrust in the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

"Pro-Kremlin media outlets, including the official Sputnik V Twitter account, have sought to undermine public trust in the [EMA] and cast doubt on its procedures and political impartiality."

State-backed media has been trying to "sow confusion" over an application for marketing approval by the Russian Sputnik V vaccine in a bid to fuel the narrative that the body had been deliberately delaying giving the green light, the report said.

"Pro-Kremlin outlets have also accused the EMA and the EU in general of political bias against the Russian-made vaccine," it said.

Meanwhile, China is promoting its vaccines as "more suitable for developing countries," including those in the Western Balkans, while deploying "misleading narratives" about the safety of Western vaccines and even on the origin of the coronavirus, the report said.

EU member Hungary has broken ranks with the rest of the bloc and has been administering the Russian and Chinese jabs, while Austria and Germany say they are in talks to purchase Sputnik V.

The EMA launched a rolling review of Sputnik V in March. If it gets the regulator's approval it would be the first non-Western coronavirus vaccine authorized for use across the 27-member bloc.

Last month, EU member Slovakia's government collapsed after its former prime minister orchestrated a secret deal to buy 2 million Sputnik V doses, despite disagreements with his coalition partners.

With reporting by AP and AFP
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