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World Ministry of the Interior fears disruptive actions during the vaccination campaign

14:40  24 january  2021
14:40  24 january  2021 Source:   spiegel.de

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Germany's Interior Ministry says the country's vaccination drive could be sabotaged by conspiracy ideologues and cyberattacks. "Several suspected attempts to spy on German vaccine manufacturers have already become known," newspapers of the Funke media group quoted the Interior Ministry as

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The federal government fears massive disruptive attempts during the corona vaccination campaign. There is an "abstract risk" for the headquarters of pharmaceutical companies, but also for vaccination centers, vaccine transports and storage facilities, according to a response from the Federal Ministry of the Interior to an inquiry from the Greens that AFP received on Sunday in Berlin. Domestically, this threat comes from "anti-vaccination opponents, corona skeptics and conspiracy theorists". There is also the risk of espionage and sabotage attempts by foreign secret services.

Die Bundesregierung befürchtet massive Störversuche während der Corona-Impfkampagne. © THOMAS KIENZLE The federal government fears massive attempts to disrupt the corona vaccination campaign.

In its response, the Ministry of the Interior referred to the "great media presence" and the "emotionality inherent in the Corona issue". It is true that the federal government has "no specific knowledge relevant to risk". Nevertheless, they must assume a risk of sabotage up to "physical attacks" on staff and vaccine recipients.

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One scenario is that anti-vaccination opponents "could try to penetrate the vaccination centers and the storage facilities, on the one hand to attract attention and on the other hand to emphasize their protests," writes the ministry in the answer that the newspapers of the Funke media group had initially reported .

The Ministry sees a further danger in specific espionage attempts by foreign secret services. According to the letter, "several alleged research attempts with regard to German vaccine manufacturers have already become known". The risk of cyber attacks must be "classified as high".

The potential targets for espionage and sabotage by foreign intelligence services are therefore facilities for research, production and approval of vaccines.

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The Green domestic politician Irene Mihalic, who had directed the inquiry to the Home Office, told the Funke newspapers that the storming of the US Capitol had shown "how quickly absurd conspiracy narratives can turn into violence". Her party colleague Konstantin von Notz warned that the cyber attack on the European Medicines Agency (EMA) had shown that the risk of IT attacks, espionage and sabotage by foreign intelligence services was "very real".

In its answer, the Ministry of the Interior points out that the Federal Police protect vaccination transports from the German border to the distribution centers in the federal states. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) has sensitized vaccine manufacturers "about the dangers of espionage and sabotage in personal conversations or in corresponding video conferences". The BfV has also sent corresponding information letters via the professional associations to the "relevant actors" such as research companies and companies for clinical commissioned studies.

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