The head of the European Union medical agency confirmed on Friday that the institution had been the target of a cyber attack over the past two weeks, but said that will not impact the current evaluation of potential COVID-19 vaccines.
The cyberattack was originally announced on Wednesday, although the agency offered few details at the time. During a virtual meeting with the European Parliament, the executive director of the European Medicines Agency, Emer Cooke, said that the agency “had launched an investigation in close cooperation with law enforcement officials and other relevant entities.”
In a brief statement on its website, BioNTech, the Pfizer partner, said it had been informed that some documents related to its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, which had been stored on an agency server, had been “Illegally accessed”. The company said it did not believe that any personal data of the test participants had been compromised.
Cooke said Friday: “We can assure you that the timelines for the evaluation of vaccines and treatments against COVID-19 were not impacted. And the agency, as you can see today, is still fully functional. “
The Amsterdam-based agency is evaluating the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine, which has already been approved by England and Canada, as well as the Moderna vaccine. The agency said it will make a decision on conditional approval at a meeting to be held on December 29, while a decision on Moderna’s vaccine would take place on January 12.
Cooke said that based on the data from the two vaccines, “the safety and efficacy look very promising.” “We have not seen adverse events that could raise concern.” Earlier in the week, Cooke said the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca is also being considered but that full information for that vaccine has not yet been released.