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UK security services now have “proof” an agent swiped the blueprint from the pharmaceutical company in person – with other vital data. Russia was first accused of targeting the UK, US and Canada last year. Home Office minister Damian Hinds said yesterday “state activity” was involved in “industrial espionage”.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman refused to comment on specific claims that “security services” sources have evidence that Russian agents stole the Oxford coronavirus immunisation design. He added: “I’ve seen reports on this. But as you would expect, I’m not going to comment on matters on the intelligence front.”
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In 2020, then foreign secretary Dominic Raab condemned a disinformation campaign by Russia to discredit the Oxford- AstraZeneca vaccine by suggesting it could turn people into monkeys because it uses a chimpanzee virus as a vector – even though that is a common practice in vaccine development. The campaign allegedly targeted countries where Russia wanted to sell its own SputnikV shots.
Vladimir Putin’s presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the claims as “unscientific”.
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