Russia has alleged a misinformation campaign bankrolled by the West is going on against its COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V. The allegation comes amid Russian health authority warning its citizens to refrain from drinking for two months during the vaccination.
"A series of pseudo-analytical investigations and false "eyewitness" testimony about the alleged danger of the Russian vaccine or rejection of vaccination, including in the Russian Armed Forces, is being prepared in social networks and Russian-language Internet resources funded by foreign grants," Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov told news agency Tass.
"We know in detail what funds and resources have been earmarked from abroad to discredit the domestic vaccine in the world and in Russia," he told reporters.
India's Dr Reddy's Laboratories and Hetero Drugs have a license to sell 100 million doses of the vaccine in India and limited trials are also being done in the country, as part of the approval process. The vaccine was developed by the Gamaleya National Research Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology.
Its post-registration trials began in Moscow on September 7, with volunteers receiving the first vaccine on September 9. A total of 50,000 people were involved in the programme, claims Russia. More than 150,000 people in Russia have been inoculated with the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine by now. Russia claims over 95% efficacy of the vaccine in two doses over 42 days.
Meanwhile, Sputnik V vaccine's developer, Alexander Gintsburg, has contradicted the advice of Anna Popova - the head of Russia's consumer safety watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, urging people to stop drinking for 42 days after receiving the first shot and to abstain from alcohol for at least two weeks before the first injection.
Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova also had aired the same views, reports said. "One glass of champagne won't hurt anyone, not even your immune system," said Dr Gintsburg in a tweet shared on the vaccine's official Twitter handle, along with a picture of Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio raising a glass of champagne.
The advice would apply for all COVID-19 vaccines and not just the Russian Sputnik V and it is always important to avoid alcohol three days before and after the two injections, Dr Gintsburg said. The warning has not gone well with most Russians, a cold country and the fourth-largest consumer of alcohol per person in the world.
Experts point out that no medical expert would advise anyone to drink during medication or during vaccination to get maximum efficacy. So far conclusive studies have not been done on any connection between efficacy of vaccines and alcohol. The UK, where vaccine roll out of Pfizer-BioNTech has started, no such advisory has been given by the country's regulator, MHRA.