Reuters is reporting that the US has identified three online publications directed by Russia’s intelligence services it says are trying to undermine Covid-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna. According to the report:
March 9, 2021 The United States has identified three online publications directed by Russia’s intelligence services that it says are seeking to undermine Covid-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna, a State Department spokeswoman said on Sunday. The outlets “spread many types of disinformation, including about both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, as well as international organizations, military conflicts, protests, and any divisive issue that they can exploit,” the spokeswoman said. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) first reported on the identification of the alleged campaign on Sunday. A Kremlin spokesman denied the U.S. claim Russia was spreading false information about vaccines to the WSJ.Russia’s embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Russia approved its Sputnik V vaccine in August, before a large-scale trial had begun, saying it was the first country to do so for a Covid-19 shot. Peer-reviewed trials months later proved it was almost 92% effective in fighting the virus.
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Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reporting on various state actor COVID information campaigns has included:
- A report from October 2020 on a US Department of Homeland Security analysis concluding that Chinese operatives were probably waging disinformation campaigns using overt and covert tactics—including social media trolls— to shift responsibility for the pandemic to other countries, including the United States.
- A report from November 2020 that the UK’s Signal Intelligence Agency was preparing to launch a “major offensive cyber operation against state-sponsored propaganda aimed at undermining research on the COVID-19 vaccine.”
- A report from January on a New York Times and ProPublica investigation into state-sponsored Chinese disinformation efforts centered on the Covid pandemic.
- A report from January on a CNN analyst’s view of Russian efforts to spread COVID-related disinformation.
- A report from January on an EU analysis concluding that pro-Kremlin media are trying to generate support for the Russian Sputnik V COVID vaccine by shifting its disinformation narratives.
- A report from February on an Australian think-tank’s analysis of Chinese and Russian influence campaigns aimed at undermining the Covid-19 vaccination programs.
- A report from February concluding that China was the leading actor using disinformation to control the narrative around the origins of the COVID-19 virus.
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