The problem of fake Covid-19 vaccine

Due to the scarcity of supplies, the fake Covid-19 vaccine has appeared in many countries, threatening health security and public health.

A representative of the pharmaceutical company Pfizer recently confirmed that its vaccine was counterfeited in Mexico and Poland. The company said it will work with authorities to further investigate.

In Mexico, about 80 people have been given a vaccine in a clinic for $ 1,000 a dose. Up to now, no one has had any unusual symptoms. Dr Manuel de la O Cavazos, head of the state health department of Nuevo León, said the vials of the vaccine were found in a beer refrigerator, with an incorrect expiration date, different numbers from the shipment sent to the state.

Polish authorities also seized a counterfeit vaccine at a man’s apartment. The substance inside could be a wrinkle medication, said a Pfizer representative. The vaccine has not been given to anyone yet.

A similar incident happened in January. Pfizer also found a shipment of Pfizer-labeled vaccines from an apartment in Poland. The company tested the liquid in the vials, finding they lacked the key ingredients that make up the vaccine, instead being the hyaluronic acid, which is in the stretch product. The man in this apartment has been arrested, charged with fraud

Since the end of 2020, pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have worked to prevent illegal activities related to vaccines. The global immunization campaign together with the high demand of the community create opportunities for criminals to take advantage of fickle people.

“Everybody in the world needs the Covid-19 vaccine. Currently, supplies are limited. The number of vaccines will increase as more companies enter the market. At this point, criminals have a chance to reimburse.” is perfect for fraud, “said Lev Kubiak, Pfizer’s head of security.

Pfizer specialists analyze a sample of fake vaccine seized in Poland. Image: Pfizer

The US, Mexico and many countries have removed dozens of websites that sell fake vaccines. These sites appear to be collecting user data for use in identity theft activities.

People can easily tell the difference between real and fake vaccines, experts say. The legal vaccine is currently only sold to the government, deployed at the required immunization sites. Any Covid-19 vaccine for sale online is counterfeit, potentially harmful to the health of the user.

China and South Africa last month seized thousands of counterfeit Covid-19 vaccines, detaining dozens of people involved. Mexico is also investigating a shipment of about 6,000 doses of unknown Sputnik V from a private jet to Honduras in March.

For several months, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR), under the US Department of Homeland Security, investigated Covid-19 global fraud. The agency recalled batches of masks, protective gear and many poor-quality products worth $ 48 million. Since last fall, investigators have focused more on the Covid-19 vaccine, which handles online scams. They removed 30 websites and seized 74 illegal domain names.

So far, the US has not discovered fake vaccines. But limited supply and high demand have prompted many to seek vaccinations outside the official site, especially in Mexico and Brazil, where the epidemic is strained.

Tony Pelli, a consultant with the British Standards Institute, said: “In certain areas, when supply and demand are too far apart, there are people willing to fill that gap with counterfeit goods. new drugs, sooner or later, they will be counterfeited “.

In fact, counterfeiting prescription drugs has been more profitable in the past decade. According to Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), one of the four largest auditing firms in the world, the fake pharmaceutical market is worth more than $ 200 billion a year.

According to Mr. Pelli, because countries keep Covid-19 vaccines very strictly during the pandemic, it is also easier to distribute fake vaccines than to steal genuine injections.

“With the counterfeits, you just have to say ‘This is the Covid-19 vaccine, don’t ask why we got it’ and start selling them to the fussy people,” he said.

A website selling fake Regeneron was reviewed by the US Department of Homeland Security.  Photo: WSJ

A website selling fake Regeneron was reviewed by the US Department of Homeland Security. Image: WSJ

Large pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer often cooperate with security agencies, former law enforcement officials to investigate counterfeit drugs. In recent years, the company has been trying to find criminals to counterfeit erectile dysfunction drug Viagra and anti-anxiety drug Xanax.

“We have never seen so many scams and misinformation regarding vaccines,” said Steve Francis, director of IPR.

Mr. Kubiak predicts that counterfeiting will worsen as the vaccination campaign expands. “Right now, consumers are deceived easily. They are desperate to get the vaccine,” he said.

Thuc Linh (According to the WSJ)


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