Police found a Russian scientist working on a vaccine for the Chinese coronavirus dead this weekend, concluding that he fell out of a building in St. Petersburg, local media have confirmed.
Alexander “Sasha” Kagansky died with stab wounds on his body, reports stated.
According to the Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets (MK), Kagansky fell from the 14th floor of a building in St. Petersburg in just his underwear. Russian police are reportedly investigating the incident as a homicide and have questioned another man about the incident.
MK noted that Kagansky, a biologist with close ties to the University of Edinburgh, had been working on the development of a coronavirus vaccine “under strange circumstances.”
At the time of his death, he was working as the Director of the Centre for Genomic and Regenerative Medicine at Russia’s Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok. He was recently invited to speak at the World Science Forum in Budapest alongside some of the world’s other leading scientists.
Kagansky’s work on a vaccine was taking place despite claims from the Kremlin that government scientists had successfully produced a vaccine already — “Sputnik V,” which is already being distributed nationwide despite never completing Phase III trials. It is unclear whether his research was connected to his murder.
International health experts have cast doubt on both the safety and efficacy of Russia’s “Sputnik V” vaccine candidate, approved in August despite not completing large-scale advanced trials. Last week, American filmmaker Oliver Stone claimed he had taken the Russian vaccine candidate. Socialist governments in Argentina and Venezuela placed orders for millions of doses for their own nationwide programs.
Kagansky is the latest Russian official, scientist, or health worker to die under mysterious circumstances since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Since February this year, at least five people have died after falling from windows in different parts of the country.
In nearly all the cases, the victim appeared to have challenged or criticized the Russian state’s handling of the pandemic. So far, health authorities have recorded nearly 2.9 million cases and more than 51,000 deaths, the fourth-highest number worldwide. Russian data is notoriously unreliable, meaning the actual figure could be considerably higher.