China dismisses accusations of hacking attempt on US vaccine developer Moderna

WION Web Team Beijing, China Jul 31, 2020, 01.47 PM(IST)

Moderna Therapeutics Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

"The accusations are baseless and without evidence, and China does not need to and does not engage in technology theft," foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a news briefing.

China has rejected charges that hackers linked to its government targetted biotech firm Moderna Inc, a leading US-based coronavirus vaccine research developer, to steal data.

"The accusations are baseless and without evidence, and China does not need to and does not engage in technology theft," foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a news briefing.

A US security official tracking Chinese hacking activity had earlier accused of China of theft.

Last week, the US Justice Department made public an indictment of two Chinese nationals accused of spying on the United States, including three unnamed US-based targets involved in medical research to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The indictment stated that the Chinese hackers "conducted reconnaissance" against the computer network of a Massachusetts biotech firm known to be working on a coronavirus vaccine in January.

Moderna, which is based in Massachusetts and announced its COVID-19 vaccine candidate in January, confirmed to Reuters that the company had been in contact with the FBI.

Moderna's vaccine candidate is one of the earliest and biggest bets by the Trump administration to fight the pandemic. The federal government is supporting development of the company's vaccine with nearly half a billion dollars and helping Moderna launch a clinical trial of up to 30,000 people beginning this month.

China is also racing to develop a vaccine, bringing together its state, military and private sectors to combat a disease that has killed over 660,000 people worldwide.

(with inputs from agencies)