According to the International Police Agency, 400 vials containing fake vaccines were found in a warehouse outside the South African capital, Johannesburg.
Security officials in China and South Africa seized thousands of counterfeit doses of the coronavirus vaccine, global police agency Interpol revealed Wednesday.
The international police force said in a statement that 400 vials, equivalent to around 2,400 doses, containing the fake vaccine were found in a warehouse in Germiston near Johannesburg in South Africa, where officers also recovered fake masks and arrested three Chinese citizens and a Zambian national. .
“Since COVID-19 reached the shores of South Africa, the government has adopted an integrated multidisciplinary approach to law enforcement,” said Brigadier Vish Naidoo, spokesperson for the South National Police -African, according to the Interpol press release.
“This, along with our association with our counterparts in all Interpol member countries, is proving to be very effective, as we have seen in the arrests of foreign nationals trying to sell fake vaccines to unsuspecting people in South Africa.”
In China, police have managed to identify a network selling counterfeit COVID-19 vaccines as part of an investigation backed by Interpol, which has 194 member countries, he said.
Police raided the manufacturing premises, which led to the arrest of some 80 suspects and seized more than 3,000 fake vaccines at the scene, he said.
“The Chinese government attaches great importance to vaccine safety. Chinese police are conducting a targeted campaign to prevent and crack down on vaccine-related crimes, ”said a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Public Security.
‘The tip of the iceberg’
Interpol earlier this year issued an “orange notice” to authorities around the world to prepare for organized crime networks targeting COVID-19 vaccines, both physically and online.
“While we welcome this result, it is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine crime,” Interpol Secretary General Juergen Stock said.
Interpol said it was also receiving additional reports about the distribution of fake vaccines in nursing homes.
“No approved vaccine is currently available for sale online. Any vaccine advertised on websites or on the dark web will not be legitimate, will not have been tested and could be dangerous, ”the statement said.
“Anyone who buys these drugs is putting themselves in danger and giving their money to organized criminals.”
Stock had warned in December in an interview with the German weekly Wirtschafts Woche of a sharp increase in crime due to vaccine deployments, with thefts, warehouse break-ins and attacks on vaccine shipments.