EU's medicines agency responsible for vaccine approval suffers cyber attack

WION Web Team
Amsterdam Published: Dec 09, 2020, 09:32 PM(IST)

Covid-19 vaccine Photograph:( Reuters )

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The European agency has set December 29 deadline to decide on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and January 12 next year for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

As Europe prepares to roll out the coronavirus vaccine, the European Medicines Agency(EMA) said today that it was targeted in a cyber attack.

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"EMA cannot provide additional details whilst the investigation is ongoing. Further information will be made available in due course," it said in a statement.

The EMA is responsible for approving various medicines including vaccines for the European Union(EU). It is still unclear whether anything was compromised or who was responsible for the attack.

The cyber attack report comes as fears have grown that hackers could target agencies handling vaccine information.

"EMA has been the subject of a cyber attack. The Agency has swiftly launched a full investigation, in close cooperation with law enforcement and other relevant entities," the Amsterdam-based agency said.

EU's medicines agency had earlier said that it wants to wait for further review among its members before rolling out the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine.

The European agency has set December 29 deadline to decide on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and January 12 next year for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

IBM had earlier uncovered cyber attacks reportedly carried out by "state actors" against companies involved in distributing COVID-19 vaccines.

"Our team recently uncovered a global phishing campaign targeting organizations associated with a COVID-19 cold chain," IBM's analysts Claire Zaboeva and Melissa Frydrych had said.

The IBM analysts asserted that the motive behind the cyber attack "may have been to harvest credentials, possibly to gain future unauthorized access to corporate networks and sensitive information relating to the COVID-19 vaccine distribution."

According to the Wall Street Journal, hackers have tried to target several pharmaceutical companies developing vaccines including Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, AstraZeneca including South Korean laboratories.

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