Fake shots for the pandemic can be easy to distinguish from real ones, experts said, because legitimate ones can be found for now sold only to governments, making any shots for sale on the internet counterfeit and potentially harmful.
Police in China and South Africa last month seized thousands of doses of counterfeit Covid-19 vaccines in warehouses and manufacturing plants, arresting dozens of people, according to the international police agency Interpol. Mexico also is investigating a shipment of some 6,000 doses of purported Sputnik vaccine from Russia, which were seized from a private plane headed to Honduras in March.
The Russia Direct Investment Fund, which leads efforts to market the vaccine internationally, said an analysis of photographs of the seized batch “suggests that it is a fake.” The Mexican Attorney General’s Office said it was investigating the matter and declined to comment further. Authorities haven’t determined whether the vaccines are genuine.
For months, agents from the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, an investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, have been investigating fraud related to the Covid-19 pandemic globally, recovering $48 million of phony masks, personal protective equipment and other products. Last fall, investigators shifted their focus to include Covid-19 vaccines that were nearing potential clearance by regulators, beginning with online scams. They have removed 30 websites and seized 74 web domains, according to IPR Center officials.
Author(s): Jared S. Hopkins, José de Córdoba
Publication Date: 21 April 2021
Publication Site: Wall Street Journal