North Korea has begun Phase 3 clinical trials of a vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 based on manufacturing processes stolen through computer “hacking activities,” a South Korean-based website dedicated to covering its northern neighbor reported, citing an anonymous source in the communist nation.
Although North Korea officially claims the country has no confirmed infections from the novel coronavirus, the Daily NK website says the Phase 3 trials are being conducted on patients who are displaying symptoms similar to COVID-19.
Citing its source, the Daily NK said the North Korean regime has recently created a “hacking organization” with the purpose of obtaining information on COVID-19, including vaccine development technology.
The organization has been dubbed Bureau 325 and is overseen by the Reconnaissance General Bureau with direct orders from the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea.
Daily NK’s said the group of hackers immediately reports major technology-related acquisitions to Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to its source. Kim Yo Jong and Party Secretary Jo Yong Won direct the group’s activities themselves.
The website quoted an official from the ESTsecurity Research Center (ERSC), a Seoul, South Korea-based cybersecurity firm, as confirming that numerous and concerted illicit attempts to breach the computers of South Korean and overseas pharmaceutical companies by North Korean actors have been ongoing since early October.
North Korean officials are not sure of the efficacy of their vaccine.
“They secured enough know-how through hacking, but they don’t have the capacity to produce (vaccines),” the Daily NK quoted its source. “But because the Supreme Leader (Kim Jong Un) directly ordered a vaccine to be independently developed, they have to show something in the way of results.”
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