South African authorities seized counterfeit COVID-19 vaccines after INTERPOL issued a global warning. INTERPOL

In South Africa and China, a global counterfeit Covid-19 distribution network was dismantled and “hundreds of illegal vaccines arrested on two continents were seized,” said Interpol, who represents 194 international police forces.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Interpol said that in South Africa “around 400 ampoules – the equivalent of about 2,400 doses – were found in a warehouse in Germiston, Gauteng – containing the counterfeit vaccine.”

“The officers also recovered a large amount of counterfeit 3M masks and arrested three Chinese nationals and one Zambian national,” the statement added.

Doses of the counterfeit vaccine were found in a warehouse in Germiston, South Africa.Doses of the counterfeit vaccine were found in a warehouse in Germiston, South Africa. INTERPOL

In China, “police successfully identified a network selling counterfeit Covid-19 vaccines, raided manufacturing facilities, arrested around 80 suspects and seized more than 3,000 counterfeit vaccines on-site,” the agency said.

“Although we welcome this result, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to criminal offenses related to Covid-19 vaccines,” said Interpol General Secretary Juergen Stock.

A spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Public Security noted that “the Chinese government attaches great importance to vaccine safety” and “will continue to strengthen constructive cooperation with Interpol” to combat illegal vaccination crimes, the Interpol statement said.

Interpol said it was also about “additional reports of counterfeit vaccine distribution and attempted fraud against health authorities such as nursing homes”.

The agency has warned the public that “there are currently no approved vaccines for sale online. Any vaccine advertised on websites or on the dark internet is illegitimate, has not been tested, and can be dangerous. “

Anyone who buys these counterfeit vaccines “puts themselves at risk and gives their money to organized criminals,” the statement concluded.

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