Police in China and South Africa have seized thousands of counterfeit doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, the global police organization Interpol said on Wednesday, warning that this only represented the “tip of the iceberg” in vaccine-related crime.
The Lyon-based agency Interpol said that 400 vials – equivalent to approx. 2,400 doses – containing the fake vaccine were found in a warehouse in Germiston outside Johannesburg in South Africa, where officers also obtained fake masks and arrested three Chinese and a Zambian citizen.
In China, police successfully identified a network selling counterfeit Covid-1
They looted the factory premises, resulting in the arrest of about 80 suspects and seized more than 3,000 counterfeit vaccines on the spot.
Earlier this year, Interpol issued an “Orange Notice” warning authorities around the world to prepare for organized crime networks targeting Covid-19 vaccines, both physically and online.
“While 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 also received further reports of false vaccine distribution and scam attempts targeting health care facilities such as nursing homes.
It warned that no approved vaccines were available for sale online.
“Any vaccine advertised on websites or the dark web is not legitimate, will not be tested and may be dangerous.”
In an interview with the German weekly WirtschaftsWoche in December, Stock had warned of a sharp rise in crime due to the vaccine’s rollout with thefts and burglary and attacks on vaccinations.