Hackers ‘Unlawfully Accessed’ BioNTEch COVID-19 Vaccine Data

Owen Humphreys/Pool via REUTERS

Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
Font Size:

A cyberattack that targeted a European medical regulator gained access to German biotech firm BioNTech’s documents related to its coronavirus vaccine, Reuters reported.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA), which is working on approving two coronavirus vaccines and is responsible for regulating medicines, said that a cyberattack had targeted it, but gave no further details. 

BioNTech, which made a coronavirus vaccine with Pfizer, said that its regulatory submission was “unlawfully accessed” during the attack but that neither of the two company’s systems were “breached in connection with this incident.” It added in a statement that the company was unaware of any study participants being identified in the breach. 

“At this time, we await further information about EMA’s investigation and will respond appropriately and in accordance with EU law. EMA has assured us that the cyber attack will have no impact on the timeline for its review.”

It was not clear who was responsible for the attack, or what information was compromised, according to Reuters.

The EMA and law enforcement are investigating the incident, which is the latest cyberattack targeting pharmaceutical companies. 

This illustration picture taken on November 23, 2020 shows a bottle reading “Vaccine Covid-19” and a syringe next to the Pfizer and Biontech logo. (Photo by JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images)

Dr. Reddy’s, a company that is developing a vaccine, said it was hit with a cyberattack in October, with global sites from India to the US and UK affected. IBM also said that its cold storage supply chain that is used to transport vaccines has also been targeted, likely by a nation state through a campaign that started in Sept. 2020. The cyberattack spanned six countries including Germany, Italy and South Korea.

An IBM Research report released in December indicated that s foreign powers are employing hackers to infiltrate the vaccine supply chain.  (RELATED: Hackers Target Coronavirus Vaccine Supply Chain In Global Phishing Attack, Report Says)

The EMA announced that it was set to brief Members of the European Parliament on the latest developments of vaccine authorization on Thursday.