Thousands of fake doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been seized in China and South Africa by security officials, the global police agency Interpol revealed.
About 400 ampoules of fake vaccines which is equivalent to around 2400 doses were found at a warehouse in Germiston just outside Johannesburg in South Africa. The officials also confiscated fake masks and arrested three Chinese nationals and one Zambian.
The police also identified a network selling counterfeit COVID-19 vaccines in China. Around 3000 fake vaccines were seized after the manufacturing premises were raided resulting in the arrest of 80 suspects.
"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.
The spokespersons from both China and South Africa have said they are conducting targeted campaigns by police to prevent and the crack down on such crimes related to vaccines.
Foreseeing the growing risk for criminal gangs to capitalize on the global demand for vaccines by either stealing the real vaccines or selling fake doses, Interpol earlier this year had issued an "Orange Notice" warning authorities worldwide to prepare for crime networks targeting COVID-19 vaccines. Juergen Stock had warned of a steep rise in crime due to the vaccine rollout, with thefts and warehouse break-ins and attacks on vaccine shipments.
According to the Interpol statement, in addition to the cases found in China and South Africa, it is also receiving many reports of fake vaccine distribution and scam attempts targeting health bodies like nursing homes, etc.
However, Interpol has warned that no approved vaccines are being sold online currently and therefore the ones advertised on the dark web or other websites are not safe and could be dangerous.
"Anyone who buys these drugs is putting themselves at risk and giving their money to organized criminals," said the statement.