Early on Wednesday, a vaccine manufacturing facility in the U.K. had to go into lockdown mode after a suspicious package arrived on the site.
The pharmaceutical company Wockhardt UK announced that it shut down and evacuated its Wrexham vaccine factory in Wales. The facility had been responsible for bottling the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine into glass vials, according to ABC News, making it a particularly-disturbing site for a potential mail bomb scare.
Wockhardt UK in Wrexham this morning received a suspicious package. Relevant authorities have responded and upon expert advice we have partially evacuated the site pending a full investigation. The safety of our employees and business continuity remain of paramount importance.
— WockhardtUK (@WockhardtUk) January 27, 2021
Thankfully, Wockhardt UK was able to send out an all-clear hours later, saying that the situation had been resolved without incident and that the factory was once again safe. Still, the brief scare illustrates the fragility of the vaccine supply chain and, unfortunately, how it can be ground to a halt.
This isn’t the first time that coronavirus vaccine production has come under fire. Hackers reportedly from China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea all launched cyberattacks on various pharmaceutical companies and agencies when they were working to develop and test COVID-19 vaccines.
Even Dr. Fauci, the top coronavirus expert in the U.S., was targeted by what initially appeared to be an anthrax attack in his mail.
For now, there isn’t much information available regarding why the Wockhardt facility specifically was targeted or who was behind the attack. Thankfully, Wockhardt released a statement saying its production schedule remained unaffected, so the attack failed to cause any lasting damage.