Operation Secondary Infektion Targets Pfizer Vaccine
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Operation Secondary Infektion Targets Pfizer Vaccine

October 20, 2021 • Insikt Group®

Russia

Insikt Group

Editor’s Note: The following post is an excerpt of a full report. To read the entire analysis, click here to download the report as a PDF.

The following report is an update to Insikt Group’s August 2021 publication “Operation Secondary Infektion Continues Targeting Democratic Institutions and Regional Geopolitics”, an investigation into the likely Russian state-sponsored information operation “Secondary Infektion.” This report examines a newly discovered campaign of Operation Secondary Infektion, aimed at discrediting the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. This report contains information gathered using the Recorded Future® Platform as well as several OSINT enrichment tools.

Executive Summary

Recorded Future’s Insikt Group has identified what we assess is almost certainly a fake screenshot of an academic-led “Open Appeal” letter opposing the vaccination of teenagers against COVID-19, particularly using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, circulating on European blog websites and self-publishers. The letter is purportedly from physicians associated with the University of Latvia. This fake letter is very likely an attempt to generate vaccine hesitancy and distrust of Western institutions among European audiences. The campaign’s tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) suggest that it is most likely associated with the likely Russian state-sponsored information operation Secondary Infektion. Insikt Group found this false narrative actively circulating among popular Eastern European blog sites and self-publishers, contributing to the misinformation and disinformation, conspiracy theories, and general distrust in government and medical institutions that is widespread among groups of people who remain opposed to getting vaccinated even as the the COVID-19 Delta variant circulates globally.

Key Judgments

  • We have identified a forgery of an alleged “Open Appeal” letter from physicians associated with the University of Latvia claiming that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is unsafe and should not be given to teenagers.
  • The fake letter identified in this campaign is highly likely an attempt to generate vaccine hesitancy and distrust of Western institutions among European audiences.
  • We believe that this campaign is almost certainly associated with the likely Russian state-sponsored information operation Secondary Infektion”, based on this campaign’s dependence on single-use persona accounts and rogue self-publishers and blog sites to disseminate this narrative, blatant English-language errors and grammatical inconsistencies, and digital manipulation identified in the purported screenshot.

Editor’s Note: This post was an excerpt of a full report. To read the entire analysis, click here to download the report as a PDF.

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