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North Korea accused of attempted Pfizer hack to steal COVID-19 vaccine data

Published on 16/02/21 at 12:41pm
A computer screen filled with numbers

North Korea has tried to hack into Pfizer’s servers in order to ascertain its COVID-19 vaccine technology, according to a report by South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency earlier today.

The Korean news site claimed the country’s lawmakers were made aware by the National Intelligence Service at a hearing of the National Assembly’s intelligence committee.

It isn’t yet confirmed when exactly the hack actually occurred or whether it was successful. Pfizer themselves have so far declined to comment.

It is believed North Korea attempted the hack to sell the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine technology, rather than to make a vaccine of their own.

The East Asian country is expected to receive two million doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine as part of WHO’s COVAX setup, which aims to get COVID-19 vaccines to the world’s poorest nations and people.

This is not the first allegation of its kind, with North Korean hackers believed to be responsible for attempted hacks into other health organisations last year - including the noted COVID-19 vaccine developers AstraZeneca, Novavax, and Johnson and Johnson.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is based on the messenger RNA molecule, has already been in the news this week due to achieving 94% efficacy in a study of 1.2 million people.

Pfizer are hoping to manufacture as many as 2 billion doses of its vaccine this year.

North Korea are yet to report any cases of COVID-19 in the country, although this claim is disputed.

Jack Goddard

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