Police in China and South Africa have seized thousands of doses of counterfeit Covid-19 vaccine and made dozens of arrests, Interpol says.
In China, police made 80 arrests at a factory allegedly making fake vaccine. At least 3,000 doses were found.
Three Chinese nationals and a Zambian were detained at a warehouse in Gauteng, South Africa, where 2,400 fake doses were discovered at the end of December according to the country’s Sunday Times.
In Wednesday’s statement, Interpol said it was also getting reports of other fake vaccine rings.
Announcing the dismantling of the suspected fake vaccine network, Interpol stressed that no approved vaccines were “currently available for sale online”.
“Any vaccine being advertised on websites or the dark web, will not be legitimate, will not have been tested and may be dangerous,” it said
A South African Police national spokesman said that cooperation with other Interpol member states was proving “very effective”, as seen by the “arrest of foreign nationals attempting to peddle fake vaccines to unsuspecting people within South Africa”.
No location or further details were given for the counterfeit factory in China which was, Interpol said, investigated with the help of its Illicit Goods and Global Health Programme.
A spokesperson for the Chinese ministry of public security said police there were conducting a “targeted campaign to prevent and crack down on crimes related to vaccines” and would step up constructive cooperation with Interpol and police in other countries to effectively prevent such crimes.
Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock said that while the police operations in China and South Africa were welcome, this “is only the tip of the iceberg” when it comes to Covid-19 vaccine-related crime.