Shock as China uncovers counterfeit Covid-19 vaccine ring
By AFP – February 2, 2021 @ 4:44pm
BEIJING: Chinese police have arrested more than 80 people who were making counterfeit Covid-19 vaccines, state media said, as China races to inoculate millions before the Lunar New Year holiday.
The gang had been putting saline water into vials and selling them as Covid-19 vaccines in an operation that had been running since last September, according to Xinhua news agency.
Police swooped on several locations across Beijing and multiple cities in the eastern provinces of Jiangsu and Shandong, seizing “more than 3,000 fake Covid-19 vaccines on the spot,” Xinhua said.
It has not been made public how many vaccines were sold, but police have traced where the vaccines ended up, it said.
China has been racing to develop homegrown jabs and aims to vaccinate 50 million people before the start of the Lunar New Year in mid-February.
The holiday normally spurs a travel rush with hundreds of millions traversing the country – though authorities are encouraging people to stay home this year through a mixture of restrictions and incentives.
As China ramps up its vaccine campaign, authorities have repeatedly assured the public of the jab’s safety and efficacy, despite not releasing any detailed clinical trial data.
State-owned firm Sinopharm’s vaccine was approved by Chinese regulators for general use in December.
n 2018, leading vaccine manufacturer Changsheng Bio-Technology was fined US$1.3 billion after regulators discovered its vaccines were substandard, which hugely damaged public trust in vaccines at the time. – AFP
Thousands of counterfeit COVID-19 vaccines have been found in several mainland Chinese provinces as officials are rolling out free jabs to about 50 million of its population ahead of mid-February.
A total of 3,000 doses of counterfeits, made of saline for cleansing wounds, were seized by public security officers in Beijing, as well as in Jiangsu and Shandong provinces during a recent crackdown, the official Xinhua news agency said on Monday.
Criminals had been making the fake vaccines and selling them at high prices in multiple cities and provinces since September, the report said. More than 80 people were arrested during the crackdown.