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Kremlin pours cold water on anonymous Bloomberg claims about ‘elite’ Covid-19 vaccine, says Putin hasn’t been immunized

Kremlin pours cold water on anonymous Bloomberg claims about ‘elite’ Covid-19 vaccine, says Putin hasn’t been immunized
President Vladimir Putin has not received the domestic coronavirus vaccine, according to spokesman Dmitry Peskov. The denial comes on the day anonymous claims emerged that the Russian elite has had access to it since April.

Speaking to reporters, Peskov explained that the president had not yet been administered the experimental drug, because it’s “not very good for the head of state to receive an uncertified vaccine.” The spokesman himself was diagnosed with Covid-19 himself in May, and also denied being vaccinated. 

On Monday morning, Bloomberg claimed that “scores of members of Russia’s business and political elite have been given early access to an experimental vaccine against Covid-19,” claiming they included business executives, tycoons, and government officials. According to the American outlet, the vaccine has been available for Russia’s wealthy elite since April, and has already been administered to “several hundred people.”

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Bloomberg did not name any sources or provide evidence, but stated that the vaccine had been received by the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, Kirill Dmitriev, as well as senior managers at aluminum company Rusal and chemical producer PhosAgro. In mid-June, Dmitriev publicly admitted that he had volunteered to take the drug. 

Following Bloomberg’s allegations, the director of the Gamaleya Institute, Alexander Gintsburg, denied any knowledge of “big or small” businessmen receiving the immunization, with Vadim Tarasov, director of the Institute of Translational Medicine and Biotechnology at Sechenov University, calling the reports “speculation.” Aleksey Kuznetsov, an assistant to Russia’s Minister of Health, also denied that the vaccine is in “civilian circulation.”

According to the news agency, those who received the vaccine “are monitored, and their results logged by the institute.” The establishment in question is Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology.

On June 16, the institute received approval from the Ministry of Health to begin testing an experimental coronavirus vaccine on humans. In conjunction with the Ministry of Defense, it completed the drug’s first trial stage, and on July 15, announced that no volunteers had experienced “serious side effects, health complaints, complications or adverse reactions.”

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On Monday morning, a second group of trialists was discharged from hospital, with their test results “unambiguously” showing “the development of an immune response in all volunteers.” This is the same vaccine that Bloomberg claims was administered to Russia’s elite.

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