'Classified' documents behind Russian Sputnik vaccine posted online

A hacker group has shared hundreds of documents online containing information on the development of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, with some including the names of deceased participants of its clinical trials.

A group known as KelvinSecurity claims on hacker forums that it has accessed confidential documents related to the development of the Sputnik COVID-19 vaccine.

Hundreds of these documents are freely available online and appear to contain information about the deaths of participants in the vaccine's clinical trials, including the names of the deceased.

"Our mission was to see and demonstrate that the vaccine is not efficient and it was only Russian government propaganda," KelvinSecurity told Cybernews when contacted via Twitter.

Moscow advertised Sputnik as "the world's first registered COVID-19 vaccine" in 2020. Still, its rollout struggled even in Russia due to the lack of data from clinical trials and concerns that authorization was rushed.

KelvinSecurity said that the data came from "the review of the mailboxes of the developer company," which suggests a breach at the Moscow-based Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology. The institute is behind Sputnik V, also known as Gam-COVID-Vac, and Sputnik Light vaccines.

Clinical trials where patients had allegedly died included countries like Ghana and Egypt, KelvinSecurity claimed. The group said some documents were classified and contained information on the vaccine's development phases, funding, and quality.

A quick review of the data has shown it contains numerous documents related to the development of the vaccine, its financial costs, and technical details.

Some offer a glimpse into specific cases. One describes a "subject" who experienced a "spontaneous abortion" one month after getting vaccinated on 17 February last year. The document does not say whether the vaccination and pregnancy loss were related.

Other documents contain invoices and refer to the costs of research papers, with one priced at seven million roubles, or about $93,000. There is also information on different laboratories that produced the vaccine and their yield levels.

In addition to internal emails, the breach contains external communication. For example, an email from a Swiss company says it was "enthused by the research path chosen by your institute," asking if it could import Sputnik V vaccines to Switzerland. Most of Europe, including Switzerland, has never authorized the vaccine.

The published data on Sputnik includes 522MB of information spread out over more than 300 files. "In reality, each email had 1GB or 2GB of information," FalconSecurity told Cybernews.

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