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European agency says hackers leaked stolen COVID-19 vaccine data

European agency says hackers leaked stolen COVID-19 vaccine data
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The European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced Tuesday that hackers had leaked information on COVID-19 vaccines stolen as part of a breach discovered late last year. 

“The ongoing investigation of the cyberattack on EMA revealed that some of the unlawfully accessed documents related to COVID-19 medicines and vaccines belonging to third parties have been leaked on the internet,” the EMA reported in a statement. “Necessary action is being taken by the law enforcement authorities.”

The update comes a month after both Pfizer and BioNTech, and later Moderna, said the EMA had informed the companies that some evaluation documents had been accessed in the cyberattack on the agency. 

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The cyberattack took place after the companies had submitted their respective COVID-19 vaccines to the EMA for approval for emergency use in European Union member states. 

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. 

The EMA approved the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech in December, and approved the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine earlier this month. 

“The Agency continues to fully support the criminal investigation into the data breach and to notify any additional entities and individuals whose documents and personal data may have been subject to unauthorised access,” the agency wrote Tuesday.

“The Agency and the European medicines regulatory network remain fully functional and timelines related to the evaluation and approval of COVID-19 medicines and vaccines are not affected,” the EMA noted.

The EMA is far from the first government agency to be targeted by hackers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The World Health Organization and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services both were victims of cyberattacks last year, along with hospitals throughout the U.S. and around the world falling victim to ransomware attacks, in some cases negatively impacting services.