Police have seized thousands of counterfeit coronavirus vaccines in South Africa and China and have made more than 80 arrests after a criminal network selling fake jabs was uncovered, Interpol said on Wednesday.
In South Africa, police officers found 400 ampoules of fake vaccines, equivalent to around 2,400 doses, at a warehouse just outside Johannesburg. A large quantity of fake 3M masks was also found and police arrested three Chinese nationals and a Zambian national, Africanews reports.
In China, police successfully identified a network selling counterfeit COVID-19 vaccines, raided the manufacturing premises, resulting in the arrest of some 80 suspects, and seized more than 3,000 fake vaccines on the scene.
The investigation was supported and coordinated by Interpol’s Illicit Goods and Global Health (IGGH) Programme.
Interpol’s secretary-general Jürgen Stock warned that the discovery of the network was “only the tip of the iceberg” of coronavirus vaccine-related crime.
Interpol said investigations are continuing, and in addition to the arrests in South Africa and China, it is also receiving additional reports of fake vaccine distribution and scam attempts targeting health bodies, such as nursing homes.