The US has unveiled criminal charges against two Chinese hackers accused of targeting COVID-19 vaccine research, the Justice Department said in a statement.
"China’s anti-competitive behaviour and flagrant disregard for their promises not to engage in cyber-enabled intellectual property theft is not just a domestic issue, it is a global issue", Demers said. "The indictment alleges activity against companies in at least ten countries around the world".
The statement comes after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said that newly proposed US legislation would sanction anyone attempting to steal data from developers of a vaccine against COVID-19.
"We have seen that other nations – like China – use this virus to exploit other countries for political advantages. We refuse to allow our innovation to be exploited by China, Russia, or any other hackers", McCarthy said earlier today. "The stakes are too high for these significant cyber crimes to go unpunished. My legislation will hold these criminals accountable".
McCarthy’s bill would "authorise the imposition of sanctions", on hackers who attempt to steal research on a COVID-19 vaccine.
To date, more than 14.6 million people have been infected with the coronavirus worldwide, with over 609,000 fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Russia denies the charges and has reported extensive progress in efforts by the nation’s own scientists to develop a vaccine.
WHO's COVID-19 register currently involves 24 candidate vaccines that have already launched trials on humans and another 142 that are yet at the stage of preclinical evaluation.