Walorski seeks assurances on safe, reliable, protected coronavirus vaccine

Lawmakers must be briefed on China’s efforts to hack companies researching and developing a coronavirus vaccine, urged U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) during a July 31 hearing held by the U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.

“Just last week, the Justice Department indicted two Chinese nationals for hacking companies that are working on a vaccine,” Rep. Walorski said. “We sent a strong message to China: this will not be tolerated.” 

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on July 21 announced that a federal grand jury in Spokane, Wash., returned an indictment earlier in July charging two hackers, both nationals and residents of the People’s Republic of China, with hacking into the computer systems of hundreds of victim companies, governments, non-governmental organizations, and individual dissidents, clergy, and democratic and human rights activists in the United States and abroad, including Hong Kong and China. The defendants, in some instances, acted for their own financial gain, and in others for the benefit of Chinese government agencies. The hackers stole terabytes of data, which comprised a sophisticated and prolific threat to U.S. networks, according to the DOJ.

“I’m glad the administration took action by naming and shaming those involved, as well as closing down a Chinese consulate that was a hub for intellectual property and trade secret theft,” said Rep. Walorski during the hearing. “We must hold China accountable. 

“Before I close, can you commit to holding a hearing on the threat of Chinese espionage on vaccine producers, Mr. Chairman?” she asked the subcommittee chairman, U.S. Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), who was not present at that moment to respond. 

Rep. Walorski then asked that her request be made part of the record.

Also during the hearing, Rep. Walorski applauded the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed initiative to speed the development of a safe, effective, affordable, and widely available vaccine. 

In response to her questions, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, made assurances that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will not compromise or eliminate any safety standards in the vaccine approval process.

“I believe ultimately over a period of time in 2021 if we have — and I think we will have — a safe and effective vaccine, that Americans will be able to get it,” Fauci told Rep. Walorski.