BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The head of the European Union drug regulator said on Thursday the agency’s work assessing COVID-19 vaccines had not been disrupted by a cyberattack that took place in the past two weeks.
U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech said on Wednesday documents related to the development of their COVID-19 vaccine had been “unlawfully accessed” in a cyberattack on the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
The EMA had disclosed the attack hours earlier but gave no details about when or how it took place, who was responsible or what information was compromised.
“We have been subject to a cyber attack over the last couple of weeks,” Emer Cooke told EU lawmakers during a hearing on Thursday. “I can assure you that this will not affect the timeline for delivery of vaccines and that we are fully functional.”
Pfizer and BioNTech said they did not believe any personal data of trial participants had been compromised and the EMA “has assured us that the cyber attack will have no impact on the timeline for its review”.
The agency has said it will decide on a possible conditional approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 29.
Hacking attempts against healthcare and medical organisations have intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic as attackers ranging from state-backed spies to cyber criminals hunt for information.
(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio in BRUSSELS and Jack Stubbs in LONDON; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)