Fake vaccines: How do we know that they are fake? With much difficulty…

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Interpol warned that no approved vaccines are currently available for sale online, and said those buying fake doses from criminal networks were putting themselves at risk.

The WHO’s Pernette Bourdillon Esteve said the risk of getting a falsified version of the vaccine in a regulated distribution point in Europe is low given the current stage of the vaccine rollout and the limited stocks and distribution points. “The most important [thing] is that patients and end buyers procure from safe sources, that is, in regulated and authorized distribution points,” Esteve said. 

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https://m.theepochtimes.com/hundreds-of-fake-covid-19-vaccines-seized-in-south-africa-interpol_3720867.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=digitalsub

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Thousands of FAKE Covid vaccines are seized in South Africa and China but Interpol warn it ‘is only the tip of the iceberg’

  • South African police found 2,400 doses of fake COVID vaccines on Wednesday
  • Chinese authorities also raided a factory with more than 3,000 fake vaccines
  • Interpol has received reports of fake vaccine peddlers targeting nursing homes 

By MAIL ONLINE REPORTER and AFP

PUBLISHED: 10:59 GMT, 4 March 2021 | UPDATED: 11:22 GMT, 4 March 2021

Police seized thousands of fake COVID-19 vaccine doses and arrested more than 80 suspects in South Africa and China on Wednesday as Interpol warned the raids were ‘only the tip of the iceberg.’

The international police body said roughly 2,400 doses of fake coronavirus vaccines in 400 ampoules were seized with a ‘large quantity’ of face masks at a warehouse in Germiston, South Africa. 

Chinese police seized more than 3,000 fake vaccines after a raid on a manufacturing plant. Authorities also arrested 80 suspects at the scene.

Both investigations were supported by Interpol as it claimed it had received more reports of criminal vaccine distribution networks targeting nursing homes and other health bodies.

Pictures from the South Africa raids showed boxes stacked up in a largely empty warehouse, and a box full of fake COVID-19 vaccine ampoules.

‘Whilst we welcome this result, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Covid-19 vaccine related crime,’ said Interpol Secretary General Juergen Stock.

He added: ‘Following our warning that criminals would target the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, both on and offline, Interpol continues to provide its full support to national authorities working to protect the health and safety of their citizens.’

South African national police said ‘foreign nationals’ trying to sell fake vaccines in the country were among those arrested at the warehouse.

A Chinese Ministry of Public Security spokesperson said: ‘Chinese police are conducting a targeted campaign to prevent and crack down on crimes related to vaccines, proactively investigating and combating crimes related to vaccines in accordance with law.’

Interpol earlier this year issued an ‘Orange Notice’ warning authorities worldwide to prepare for organised crime networks targeting Covid-19 vaccines, both physically and online.

The global policy agency also warned that no approved vaccines are currently available for sale online, and said those buying fake doses from criminal networks were putting themselves at risk.

‘Any vaccine being advertised on websites or the dark web will not be legitimate, will not have been tested and may be dangerous,’ it said.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9325089/Thousands-FAKE-Covid-vaccines-seized-South-Africa-China.html?ito=social-twitter_mailonline

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DW

Officials warn of fake COVID-19 vaccines

Vaccines save millions of lives each year. As countries start rolling out COVID-19 vaccinations, authorities are warning people to be aware of falsified vaccines.

Police and health officials have warned that criminals will try to sell unregulated COVID-19 treatments as governments start vaccinating citizens  against the coronavirus.

On December 4, the European Union’s crime agency Europol issued a warning about fake vaccines  being sold online.

“As [the] vaccine is now becoming available, the large demand will trigger different criminal activities,” Europol spokesperson Jan Op Gen Oorth told DW. This includes circulation of falsified vaccines on illicit markets or their introduction into the legal market, trafficking of fake or substandard vaccines that have fallen out of the cold chain, and the theft of cargo and even medical waste such as empty vials.

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a warning in March about unregistered websites claiming that products on sale can treat or prevent COVID-19. 

“A culture of self-diagnosis and self-prescribing has led to the emergence of thousands of unregulated websites providing unsupervised access to substandard and falsified medical products,” said Pernette Bourdillon Esteve, the WHO’s acting team lead for incidents and substandard and falsified medical products.

Esteve told DW that the WHO was aware of some versions of falsified COVID-19 vaccines but so far there was no need to be concerned and appropriate regulatory action had been taken.

“The general public in Europe should not be alarmed about falsified versions of vaccines as long as they procure products in the regulated and controlled supply chain,” Esteve said. 
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In contrast to substandard vaccines — vaccines that have been authorized but fail to meet quality standards or specifications — falsified vaccines deliberately misrepresent their identity, composition or source, according to the WHO’s definitions. 

Prashant Yadav, a health care supply chains expert at Harvard Medical School, said falsified vaccines could enter the supply chain both at the beginning and toward the end. This includes during the early stages when the vaccine is shipped from the production site to airports and then on to destination countries, as well as once the vaccine has entered the country and is being distributed to clinics.

“The way vaccine supply chains are organized, there are multiple points of vulnerability,” Yadav told DW. “The [higher the] number of hops and storage points there are, the greater are the risks in falsified or counterfeit products entering the supply chain, especially for products like COVID-19 vaccines — the demand far outstrips supply.”

Yadav said that if a person were to divert a genuine product, there would be a high chance someone would notice because the total number of vaccine doses wouldn’t reach the destination point. These gaps can then be replaced with a falsified or counterfeit supply. 

As the product moves through the supply chain  and is handed from one entity to the next, the responsibility also shifts, Yadav said. Typically the company which manufactures or develops the vaccine holds itself responsible until it hands the product over to a government-run agency, and then it becomes the government agency’s job to ensure the integrity of the vaccine, he said. 

But Yadav said there was currently a shortage of the small glass vials used to hold vaccines, and if someone who does not work for a genuine vaccine manufacturer were to try to make a large purchase of them, this should alert authorities to potential illegal activity.

The requirement for the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine to be stored in ultralow temperatures could also help stop falsified vaccines from entering the supply chain, he said, as the need for special freezers will result in fewer storage locations for the vaccines.
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The WHO’s Pernette Bourdillon Esteve said the risk of getting a falsified version of the vaccine in a regulated distribution point in Europe is low given the current stage of the vaccine rollout and the limited stocks and distribution points. “The most important [thing] is that patients and end buyers procure from safe sources, that is, in regulated and authorized distribution points,” Esteve said. 

https://www.dw.com/en/officials-warn-of-fake-covid-19-vaccines/a-56123830

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