Fake COVID vaccines seized in China, South Africa

PBC News: Police in China and South Africa have seized thousands of fake doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Global police organisation Interpol said on Wednesday the seizures were just the “tip of the iceberg” in vaccine-related crime.

The Lyon-based Interpol said 400 vials — equivalent to around 2,400 doses — containing the fake vaccine were found at a warehouse in Germiston outside Johannesburg, where officers also recovered fake 3M masks and arrested three Chinese and a Zambian nationals, reports AFP.

In China, police successfully identified a network selling counterfeit COVID-19 vaccines.

They raided the manufacturing premises, arresting some 80 suspects and seizing more than 3,000 fake vaccines on the scene, Interpol said

Interpol issued an “Orange Notice” earlier this year, warning police forces worldwide to prepare for organised crime networks targeting COVID-19 vaccines, both physically and online.

“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.

Interpol said that in addition to the arrests in South Africa and China it was also receiving additional reports of fake vaccine distribution and scam attempts targeting health bodies such as nursing homes.

It warned that any vaccine being offered for sale online would be fake.

“Any vaccine being advertised on websites or the dark web will not be legitimate, will not have been tested and may be dangerous.”

In December, Stock warned of a sharp rise in crime due to the vaccine rollout, with thefts and warehouse break-ins, as well as attacks on vaccine shipments.

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