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European medical agency hit by cyberattack

European medical agency hit by cyberattack
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The European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced Wednesday that it had been hit by a cyberattack, becoming the latest health care group to be targeted by hackers.

“EMA has been the subject of a cyberattack,” the organization wrote in a post on its website. “The Agency has swiftly launched a full investigation, in close cooperation with law enforcement and other relevant entities.”

EMA said that it “cannot provide additional details whilst the investigation is ongoing. Further information will be made available in due course.”

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Hours after the EMA went public about the attack, BioNTech and Pfizer, which submitted their COVID-19 vaccine to the EMA for evaluation earlier this month, put out a separate statement saying that EMA had informed them that some of the evaluation documents had been accessed during the attack. 

"No BioNTech or Pfizer systems have been breached in connection with this incident and we are unaware that any study participants have been identified through the data being accessed," the two companies said in a joint statement. "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."

The Hill has reached out to the EMA for further comment on the attack. The agency’s website was functioning normally at the time of publication. 

The EMA, which is based in Amsterdam, is a European Union agency that supervises and evaluates the use of various medicines for both humans and animals. 

Pfizer and BioNTech, along with Moderna, submitted their COVID-19 vaccines to the EMA for conditional marketing authorization earlier this month, with the agency set to make a decision on both over the next few weeks. 

The cyberattack on the agency is the latest in a string of escalating attacks aimed at the health sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Both the World Health Organization and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have come under attack, along with hospitals in the U.S. and around the world. Groups involved in COVID-19 vaccine and treatment research have also been targeted by both nation-state hackers and cyber criminals.

-Updated at 4 p.m.