Reporting on vaccines and body counts
With the spread of COVID-19 impacting the world, the United States Agency for Global Media and its networks have remained committed to providing accurate and unbiased information about the coronavirus, clarifying any misinformation, and exposing disinformation related to the pandemic.
Russia on the defensive
Voice of America reported on the joint statement by U.S., U.K. and Canadian officials that a Russian intelligence-linked hacker group staged a massive cyberattack directed at Western pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions with the goal of stealing valuable information and data on coronavirus vaccines and treatments. Russia has denied these allegations, saying it has no need to steal intelligence because it already reached a preliminary deal with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to manufacture the British vaccine in Russia.
RFE/RL also reported on claims that the “very first COVID-19 vaccine in the world” had successfully completed testing at the First Moscow State Medical University. RFE/RL clarified that the university completed only the first phase of its clinical trial among a small group of volunteers and that some experts claimed that the trial was conducted in violation of basic safety protocols.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Russian Service featured an exclusive interview with Alexey Raksha, a former demography expert for the Russian state statistics agency who was fired for questioning Russia’s official pandemic mortality rates. Raksha said that Russia’s death toll might be two to three times higher than the official reported a number of 12,000. Raksha’s claims were supported by Current Time’s report on the situation in the Russian city of Ufa, where the growing number of cases and deaths are not being properly recorded and reported.
Uncovering COVID’s impact in Central Asia
The Turkmen government continues to deny that there is a coronavirus outbreak in the country, despite RFE/RL reports that dozens of people have died or have been hospitalized with coronavirus-like symptoms every day in the country. In Kazakhstan, RFE/RL collaborated with six local media companies and launched an online project with the aim of combating coronavirus data manipulation. The project documents the names of Kazakhs who have died from COVID-19 or pneumonia.