Counterfeiting COVID: INTERPOL issues rare Counterfeit global warning on COVID vaccine

Warnings have been issued by Governments around the world, urging their citizens not buy COVID-19 vaccines online or from unauthorized sources, as they are counterfeit, dangerous and ineffective.

In early December 2020, INTERPOL issued a global alert law enforcement across its 194 member countries warning them to prepare for organised crime networks targeting COVID-19 vaccines, both physically and online.

 “As governments are preparing to roll out vaccines, criminal organisations are planning to infiltrate or disrupt supply chains” Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL Secretary General  

INTERPOL reminded its members that the public need to take special care during the COVID vaccine roll-out to take special care when searching for vaccine related equipment.

False claims abound of medicines which can protect against, or even cure, the virus. But when purchasing these, you do not know what sort of medicine you are actually receiving or if it is safe to consume. What sounds like a cure could actually be harmful to your health.

In addition to the dangers of ordering potentially life-threatening products, an analysis by the INTERPOL’s Cybercrime Unit revealed that of 3,000 websites associated with online pharmacies suspected of selling illicit medicines and medical devices, around 1,700 contained cyber threats, especially phishing and spamming malware.

What Products are Affected?

A wide range of products are affected, including:

  • Products and medicines related to COVID-19, including disposable surgical masks, hand sanitizers, antiviral and antimalarial medication, vaccines and COVID-19 test kits;
  • ‘Lifesaving medicines’ such as those used to treat cancer, malaria, HIV and other serious illnesses;
  • ‘Lifestyle’ medicines, such as erectile dysfunction and weight loss medicines; and
  • Medical devices ranging from contact lenses to condoms; syringes to surgical instruments; and wheelchairs to radiotherapy machines.

Stay Vigilant and report suspicious online activity

If you suspect you have seen fake medical products for sale (either online or offline), report it to your local police or health regulatory authority.  

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