Counterfeit COVID-2019 vaccines serving an international criminal network

The link between medicinal products and organised crime is no longer to be proven. Falsified medicines, introduced on the market in the same way as drugs, weapons and trafficking in human beings, contribute to the financing of terrorism.

The International Criminal Police Organisation Interpol published on Thursday 4 March 2021 the dismantling of an international criminal network creating counterfeit COVID-19 vaccines. Thousands of vials of counterfeit vaccines and surgical masks have been confiscated from smugglers from South Africa and China.

As stated by the head of Interpol, this seizure represents only "the tip of the iceberg of COVID-19-related crime". It was also added that the agency was also looking into fake vaccine scams targeting nursing homes and other care facilities.

The African continent, due to its low pharmaceutical production, underdeveloped or permeable distribution channels and multiple stakeholders, is the first victim of trafficking of counterfeit medicines and vaccines.

"Falsified chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine enrich the organised crime that thrives in Africa, whereas they have fallen into the public domain and are produced at a low manufacturing cost," shared Jean-Yves Ollivier, Founding Chairman of the Brazzaville Foundation, and Jean-Louis Bruguière, member of the Advisory Council, on the Journal de l'Afrique.

Since July 2020, the Brazzaville Foundation has been working on defining the supply chain for falsified medicines in order to understand the causes of its vulnerability and to combat this scourge in a systemic way. You will soon find an infographic to illustrate the stages of this supply chain in the five-year report.

Find out the article published by Interpol right here.

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