Tue. Aug 9th, 2022

Russian vaccine

British security services now have ‘evidence and ministers informed’ (Image: AP / Getty Images)

A Russian agent swept the formula for the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine for use in the country’s Sputnik jab, ministers have reportedly been told.

British security services now have ‘evidence’ that an agent stole the drawing from the pharmaceutical company personally – along with other vital data, it is claimed.

Both jabs are adenovirus vaccines, meaning they use other viruses to teach the body’s immune system to fight coronavirus.

Russia was first accused of targeting Britain, the United States and Canada by the government last year.

Late Security Minister James Brokenshire said he was ‘more than 95% sure’ that Russian intelligence services were responsible for attacks on drug companies and research groups.

He said: ‘We are very careful about calling these things out and making sure we can have that confidence in attribution. We believe we have this.

‘I think the Russian government is so hypocritical as to claim to support responsible behavior in cyberspace while secretly carrying out cyber attacks like this and others.’

Conservative MP Bob Seely, who specializes in Russian affairs, has warned ‘we need to get serious about Russian and Chinese espionage’.

Oxford-AstraZeneca jab and Sputnik vaccine work in similar ways (Image: Reuters)

He told The Sun: ‘Whether it’s stealing the design of the Astra-Zeneca or blackmailing us with energy from these authoritarian and totalitarian regimes, we need to be wise about them.’

This comes after a report in 2020 concluded that Russia ‘poses an immediate and urgent threat to British national security’.

Moscow tried to influence the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, members of the Intelligence Select Committee (ISC) said.

They found ‘no evidence’ Vladimir Putin sought to influence the Brexit referendum in 2016, but only because the government did not investigate this. Former Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said he ‘categorically rejects’ this claim.

Downing Street has declined to comment.

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