Coronavirus Research: Accusations and Controversies

RapidVPN/ June 19, 2020/ Blog/

The spread of COVID-19 is a phenomenon that has hit the whole world. It was such a shock that many people talk about life before and after coronavirus. As with any event of such wide influence, there are bound to be accusations and controversies around it. In this text, we will explore some of these.

Everyone who catches a glimpse of the news, even only occasionally, is aware that the USA and China have their differences. This crisis has shown those tensions once again.

Let us remember that the first official cases of the virus appeared in China. At the time when this article was written, almost 6 million people were confirmed to have the virus globally (over 1.7 million people in the USA and over 84 thousand in China), according to the figures from the World Health Organization. It is quite reasonable to know that a myriad of countries is conducting in-depth research on COVID-19, the possible treatments, and medicines and vaccines against it.

When it comes to the relation between the aforementioned two countries, one of the issues is that the USA has long been suspicious of is cyber-espionage and stealing of intellectual property, all attributed hackers linked to China.

This suspicion is raised once again, and it is now believed that they target American organizations that are conducting extensive research regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. On the other side of the situation, China claims that this is not true, as Chinese scientists are carrying out their research on the treatment of the coronavirus patients and the vaccine against it.

To take a small step back, at the beginning of May, a joint warning coming from the USA and UK was given. It was stated that several countries are working on stealing information from their pharmaceutical companies and medical institutions. No country was denominated in particular at that moment, though according to some sources, China, Russia, and Iran were thought to be involved.

Later, the UK claimed that its institutions which are working on the vaccine against the COVID-19 had been under cyber-attacks attributed to Russian hackers based in the USA. These people are believed to have been working for the Russian Security Services. The attacks, according to the British news, were aimed at impeding the COVID-19 research and theft of documents related to the treatment of this virus. It seems that these endeavors did not go completely without loot – some information was stolen.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the USA accused China openly. US officials stated that a good amount of damage was inflicted on their COVID-19 research by Chinese and also Iranian hackers, though they were not sure whether the damage was intentional or not, as there may have been some other motive with the accidental effect on the medical research. Some more extreme viewpoints in the Trump administration believe that these attacks were intended as a deed of war.

One American drugmaker, which produces a drug used in the COVID-19 therapy, has been a target of a cyber-attack recently. It was revealed that Iranian hackers are behind this attack, whose aim was to compromise the email accounts that belong to the company. Iran denied any implication in the event.

One more country that may have had the same issues with those who are probably Iranian hackers is Israel. Israeli institutes are also researching a vaccine against the COVID-19. However, it seems that the objective of the cyber-attack was not data theft, but instead sabotage of the research process. The TV bulletin that reported this event failed to mention which institutes (or even how many of them) were the victims of this. Luckily for them, the attacks were not successful and no damage was reported.

The coronavirus crisis has infected the whole world. All countries have been through hard times and are now recovering from them. Most people were protecting themselves by staying at home and many have been fighting the disease in hospitals and laboratories. With such a situation at hand, it is quite understandable to ask – why are countries not cooperating and sharing their discoveries? Why are there so many controversies and accusations among countries?

Even after the hardships such as the ones that have befallen us recently, competitiveness is a human trait that no one can avoid displaying. During the peak of the crisis, countries have competed to show which one has more medical supplies that are necessary for treating the disease. The first country to create the vaccine will be the first one to cure its people. They will probably charge much to sell it to other countries and make a fortune. And, most importantly, that one country will be praised as the one to cure the evil enemy we have been battling this year.

The test of solidarity

Maybe some of the allegations from this text are true, maybe they are not. As it happened innumerable times in history, people turn to dishonest, untruthful, and any other means necessary to complete their goals, very often at the cost of their people’s wellbeing.

Source: The Guardian, InfoSecurity Magazine, Aljazeera, NY Times