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Hackers target Pfizer vaccine data

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The EMA says it has been hit by a cyber-attack and documents relating to a Coronavirus vaccine have been accessed.

File picture: Pexels

NEW DELHI – In the latest attack by hackers on Covid-19 vaccines and drugs data, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) says it has been hit by a cyber-attack and documents relating to a Coronavirus vaccine have been accessed.

BioNTech, which makes one of the vaccines in partnership with Pfizer, said its regulatory submission was accessed during the attack.

Recently, Dr Reddy’s which is conducting clinical trials for the Sputnik vaccine had been the target of a hackers attack.

The EMA is working on approval of two Covid-19 vaccines, which it expects to conclude within weeks, BBC reported.

The cyber-attack was not expected to impact that timeline, BioNTech said.

The EMA did not provide any details on the nature of the cyber-attack in a brief statement on its website, beyond saying a full investigation had been launched, the report said.

BioNTech said in a statement that it had been told its documents had been accessed.

“Today, we were informed… that the agency has been subject to a cyber-attack and that some documents relating to the regulatory submission for Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate, BNT162b2, which has been stored on an EMA server, had been unlawfully accessed,” it said.

“EMA has assured us that the cyber-attack will have no impact on the timeline for its review,” it added.

It said it had made the details of the hack public “given the critical public health considerations and the importance of transparency”.

And it also said it was “unaware” of any personal data of participants in its medical studies being compromised.

The EMA authorises the use of medicines across the European Union.

It is trying to decide if the Pfizer/BioNTech jab — which has just begun being rolled out in the UK — and another made by Moderna are safe for use in EU countries, BBC said.

The use of cyber-attacks against bodies involved in the vaccine rollout has been a feature of recent months, BBC said.

Security services warned in the summer Russian intelligence was targeting companies attempting to develop a successful vaccine.

In recent days, IBM said the cold storage supply chain used to supply vaccines had come under cyber-attack — probably by a nation state.

The cyber-attack comes the day before the agency is due to update the European Parliament on the progress of the vaccine assessments, BBC said.