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EU drugs agency hit by cyberattack

Headquarters of the European Medicines Agency in Amsterdam. Credit: Ceescamel/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

An investigation has been launched after the European Medicine’s Agency said on Wednesday that it had been the victim of a cyberattack.

“EMA has been the subject of a cyberattack. The Agency has swiftly launched a full investigation, in close cooperation with law enforcement and other relevant entities,” the EU’s top drugs regulator said in a online statement.

The agency, which is crucially in the midst of reviewing data on over a dozen coronavirus vaccines, did not specify the nature of the cyberattack nor if it had been effective.

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

A spokesperson for the EMA told the BBC that the agency remained “functional.”

The attack comes as the Amsterdam-based agency is reviewing market approval authorisations on two key Covid-19 vaccines which have completed late-stage clinical trials, Pfeizer/BioNTech’s and Moderna’s.

It also comes after the UK became the first country to begin its massive Covid-19 vaccination campaign using the Pfeizer/BioNTech jab, whose evaluation by US drug authorities is also on the cusp of conclusion.

The approval of a coronavirus vaccine by the EMA is a crucial condition enabling member states to effectively begin vaccinations.

Belgium has so far signed up to get 600,000 doses of Pfeizer/BioNTech’s vaccine and has said that, if all goes to plan, it will be ready to begin vaccinating the first priority groups as early as 5 January.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times