My name is Natalya Tupota. I am one of the leading researchers at the Russian State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology Vector and I feel obliged to warn the international community about the threats posed by the Covid-19 vaccine developed by my country.
It is likely that many of you have already heard the news that Russia is the first country in the world to test vaccines against the novel coronavirus. Currently, there are three scientific institutes in Russia working on the development of the vaccine: 1) Gamalei Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology (Moscow); 2) Chumakov Federal Scientific Center for Research and Development of Immune-and-Biological Products (Moscow); 3) State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology Vector (Novosibirsk). The latter, which is also my workplace, is planning to register its vaccine on October 15th this year.
In June this year, I was unwarrantedly awarded President Vladimir Putin’s honorary accolade for my work on the vaccine EpiVacCorona. Considering my direct involvement in the development of this vaccine, I refuse to accept this award, since it is evident that the vaccine will not be ready by the designated date. Everything you may have heard about the successful tests of the vaccines developed in Russia is charlatanism by the government against the Russian people!
I have conducted numerous virological studies (including practical research of the spread of diseases in different regions of Russia and the ability of different treatments to combat these diseases) and I can declare with utmost certainty that no vaccine can be developed in such a short amount of time as set by our leaders in the Kremlin.
I want to remind everyone that in the history of mankind the fastest vaccine developed was the vaccine for mumps, which happened in the sixties and took four whole years! And now our government (along with other governments around the world) is telling us that a vaccine against a considerably more complicated disease has been developed in mere six months! This is nothing short of absurd, and I am saying this as an experienced specialist who was tasked with completing this impossible mission. I am tired of lying and servicing the regime. What is more, I am absolutely convinced that none of the scientific institutes in Russia will be able to develop an effective vaccine in the nearest 3-5 years.
First, Russia’s virology sphere is severely underfunded. The salary of a junior researcher at Vector reaches just 20,000 rubles (224 euro). This is barely enough to pay utility bills and buy the cheapest available food. And exactly because of the minuscule salaries, the industry is unable to attract new employees or keep the old ones. This has resulted in a catastrophic drop in the level of scientific research in the country since the collapse of the USSR.
Second, our research center, just like others in Russia, is gripped by rampant corruption. Ten years ago, the future of our center was uncertain due to the incompetent leadership by doctor Drozdov. Now, a decade later, nothing has really changed. Our leadership, in the person of Rinat Maksyutov, continues to squander our budget for their personal benefit, while the salaries of employees remain pathetically low. What is more, in order to receive government funding, the leadership is willing to lie about Vector‘s achievements, as was the case with the development of the vaccine against Covid-19.
Third, our leadership and our scientists have been ordered to keep their mouths shut and pretend that the process of developing of the vaccine went without any incidents. Make no mistake, these too are utter lies. As I already mentioned, in June this year several employees at Vector (including myself) received honorary accolades for developing the vaccine. Even our center’s chauffeur received a medal, and his only duty is to transport our corrupt leadership to and from work. The intention behind these medals and monetary incentives was to keep us silent and show us that it is in our interests to cooperate with the regime.
It is immediately evident that Moscow’s officials care for the vaccine exclusively because of its propaganda and nationalistic significance. They are completely indifferent towards the fact that an unfinished and ineffective vaccine will lead to grave consequences if it was to be distributed among the public. Consider the following: people who receive this fabricated vaccine will cease observing protective measures and will put the entire nation at risk of a new outbreak. Even more, an untested vaccine can weaken a person’s organism, and this in conjunction with Covid-19 can lead to the individual’s death.
Considering the aforementioned, I urge everyone – people around the world and my compatriots – to distrust Moscow’s lies regarding the effectiveness of the vaccine. Do not put your life and the lives of others at risk and please continue following the prescribed safety measures, because there will not be a miracle cure to this disease any time soon.
*Tatyana Leonidovna Tupota, Senior researcher at the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology Vector.
The opinions and statements are the solely the responsibility of the author