EU slams 'manipulation' of vaccine
Beijing and Moscow have stepped up "state-sponsored disinformation" campaigns denigrating Western-developed vaccines against Covid while promoting their own, the EU said. 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," said a report from the EU's foreign service, the European External Action Service (EEAS).
- Since December, Russian media, authorities and state companies have united behind pushing the Sputnik V vaccine while using "antagonistic messaging" to accuse the EU of "sabotaging" the Russian jab, the report said.
- The report said that state-backed media had tried 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 greenlight.
- Beijing meanwhile was 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 EU report said.
- Sputnik V, the vaccine maker that is financed by Russia's sovereign wealth fund, hit back at the EU charges, saying it is the target of "unfortunate daily information attacks mostly from some EU media".
- The EU's vaccine rollout has faced widespread criticism from within the bloc as delivery shortfalls hampered early efforts to get jabs into arms.
- There have also been concerns over the safety of some vaccines -- especially AstraZeneca -- over links to rare blood clots and some countries have restricted its use.
- Brussels insists that deliveries are now picking up and the bloc is on target to inoculate 70 percent of adults by the end of July.