Director of the US National Counterintelligence and Security Center William Evanina accused Russia, China and Iran of attempting to prevent the United States from obtaining and using a vaccine against the novel coronavirus.
In an interview with Hearst Television, Evanina accused "foreign nations" of "trying to prevent us from obtaining the vaccine first."
"But once we do, they're going to surely prevent us from trying to get it into your arm," he continued. "China, Russia and Iran <…> are trying to prevent us from getting the vaccine."
The US official presented no evidence to support his claims.
According to Evanina, Russia’s tactics changed compared to 2016.
"The change is that the Russians are no longer using their own mostly proxies and bots and troll farms because they got caught. They're now taking U.S. citizens' information and it and they are taking it and amplifying it," he said.
In July, the UK National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) claimed that hackers working for Russian intelligence services attempted to steal information on the coronavirus vaccine development in the UK, Canada, and the US. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the British claims unfounded, TASS reports.
Evanina suspects US adversaries of trying to make use of US President Donald Trump’s current COVID-19 diagnosis. The official once again accused Russia, China and Iran of interfering with the US electoral process.
"I think it's an open wound for our adversaries to utilize not only the COVID. <…> But now that the president has been diagnosed, it provides them an opportunity, to again, not only enhance, exacerbate and amplify messages on both sides [Democrats and Republicans]," he said.
"We'll continue to see more aggressive activity from our adversaries on the President with respect to his COVID situation. So that is a problem for us on a national security level level," he added. "I think corralling the information, providing the American people the truthful scenario is critical so that our foreign adversaries don't extrapolate wrong information."
When asked whether other countries were trying to influence the electoral process in the United States, Evanina named Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Cuba and Turkey.
On Friday, Trump, 74, said that his wife Melania and he had tested positive for coronavirus. Later that day, the president arrived to the Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. On Monday, Trump left the hospital and returned to the White House.
The issue of potential interference in US elections is regularly raised due to Washington’s claims that Russia was complicit in such actions back in 2016. Moscow has repeatedly rejected these accusations. In February, Peskov said the Kremlin regrettably noted that there would be increasingly more news of alleged attempts by Russia to interfere in the electoral process as the US election in November approached. According to Peskov, these claims "are nowhere near close to the truth."