The police China, have identified a network selling counterfeit COVID-19 vaccines and raided the manufacturing premises and arrested about 80 suspects. The police also seized more than 3,000 fake COVID-19 vaccines on the scene.
The arrests came just weeks after INTERPOL issued an Orange Notice warning law enforcement to prepare for organized crime networks targeting COVID-19 vaccines, both physically and online. Illicit Goods and Global Health (IGGH) Programmeof the INTERPOL facilitated the arrests.
A spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Public Security said, “Chinese police are conducting a targeted campaign to prevent and crack down on crimes related to vaccines, proactively investigating and combating crimes related to vaccines in accordance with law. We will further strengthen the constructive cooperation with INTERPOL and law enforcement agencies of other countries to effectively prevent such crimes.”
“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 Jürgen Stock.
The INTERPOL issued the alert after the South African authorities seized hundreds of fake COVID-19 vaccines. Some 400 ampoules – equivalent to around 2,400 doses – containing the fake vaccine were found in a warehouse in Germiston, Gauteng. They also recovered a large quantity of fake 3M masks and arrested three Chinese nationals and a Zambian national.
Investigations are continuing, and in addition to the arrests in South Africa and China, INTERPOL is also receiving additional reports of fake vaccine distribution and scam attempts targeting health bodies, such as nursing homes.