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South Africa: Counterfeit coronavirus vaccine doses seized

South African authorities confiscated thousands of counterfeit Covid-19 vaccines and arrested several suspects. The case is presumed to be related to a recently discovered ring of Chinese counterfeiters.



Thousands of counterfeit coronavirus vaccine doses seized

Author: Sabine Carrell, International Communications Manager at tesa scribos

South African authorities confiscated around 2,400 counterfeit coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 vaccines in the Johannesburg area. During the razzia, which took place in November 2020 and is explained in a recent Interpol report, a large number of counterfeit 3M brand masks were also confiscated and suspects with Chinese and Zambian nationality were arrested.

According to media reports, the counterfeit vaccine was divided into around 400 vaccination ampoules, which were stored in a warehouse, together with counterfeit N95 protective masks. Initially, the counterfeit vaccine was alleged to originate from China. According to recent reports, the authorities have established a link between the counterfeit item confiscated in Africa and the case of counterfeit vaccines in China, which were recently confiscated and in connection with which around 80 suspects were arrested.

"Although we welcome this result, this is only the tip of the iceberg as far as crimes related to the Covid-19 vaccine are concerned," says Jürgen Stock, Secretary General of Interpol. Investigations into this case continued and Interpol has already received reports of other counterfeit products targeting health institutions, such as nursing homes and retirement homes.

Interpol and Europol had already warned in December that counterfeiters could try to exploit the coronavirus pandemic for their criminal activities. The European Anti-Fraud Office OLAF also reported cases where counterfeiters attempted to sell illegal goods to governments.

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Sources:

Interpol, Securing Industries, Time

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