Criminals are trying to sell fake COVID-19 vaccines to desperate governments and citizens, threatening trust in the real health care supply chain.
Reports of counterfeit vaccines follow months of problems with counterfeit personal protective equipment.
Fake shots: Early this month, the international law enforcement agency INTERPOL reported seizing thousands of fake COVID-19 vaccines.
With support from INTERPOL, South African authorities recovered about 400 ampules in a warehouse near Johannesburg. In China, police raided the manufacturing facility producing the fakes and seized 3,000 counterfeit vaccines.
“This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine-related crime,” INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock said, according to a press release.
Existing networks for distributing fake drugs have provided an infrastructure for trafficking fake COVID-19 vaccines, Stock told TIME magazine in an interview about the operation.
Mexico’s Secretariat of Security and Citizen Protection also confiscated fake vaccines in the northern part of the country last month.
A health clinic was selling fake doses of the Pfizer vaccine for about $2,000, according to the Secretariat of Health.
In an excellent video about counterfeit vaccines, The Wall Street Journal reports that, as of mid-January, the US government hadn’t received any reports of fake vaccines being administered to patients.
Empty promises: Confiscation of counterfeit vaccines follow numerous reports about criminals making empty promises to provide vaccines to government entities or desperate citizens.
A spokesperson from the European law enforcement agency Europol told VICE that the agency is investigating the sale of black market COVID-19 vaccines.
Italian officials received offers to buy counterfeit vaccines, according to the Associated Press. The Czech Republic also received offers to buy fake vaccines, Reuters reports.
In February, the Justice Department charged three men in Maryland with trying to sell fake vaccines online. Officials expect the scams to continue… FreightWave