Attempts by Russian-backed hackers to steal COVID-19 vaccine research from Britain are "completely unacceptable" but have not done any damage, security minister James Brokenshire says.
Britain's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said on Thursday that hackers, backed by the Russian state, had tried to steal COVID-19 vaccine and treatment research from academic and pharmaceutical institutions around the world. Russia has rejected London's allegations.
"It's completely unacceptable for the Russian intelligence agencies to seek to get into the systems of those who are seeking to respond to this crisis ... to develop a vaccine," Brokenshire told Sky News on Friday.
"There's no evidence or information of any damage or, or any sort of harm."
Meanwhile, Russia expects a deal with AstraZeneca for it to manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine being developed by the pharmaceuticals giant and Oxford University to go ahead despite allegations of trying to steal data, its wealth fund head says.
Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, said in an interview on Friday that the allegations were false and that Moscow did not need to steal secrets as it already had a deal with AstraZeneca to manufacture the British vaccine in Russia.
He said the deal could be announced later on Friday.
"There's nothing that needs to be stolen," he told Reuters. "It's all going to be given to Russia."