Police in China and South Africa have seized thousands of fake doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, the global police organisation Interpol said on Wednesday, warning this represented only the “tip of the iceberg” in vaccine-related crime.
The Lyon-based agency Interpol said 400 vials – equivalent to around 2,400 doses – containing the fake vaccine were found at a warehouse in Germiston outside Johannesburg in South Africa, where officers also recovered fake masks and arrested three Chinese and a Zambian national.
In China, police successfully identified a network selling counterfeit Covid-19 vaccines in an investigation supported by Interpol, which has 194 member countries, it said.
They raided the manufacturing premises, resulting in the arrest of around 80 suspects and seized more than 3,000 fake vaccines on the scene, it said.
Interpol said that in addition to the arrests in South Africa and China it was also receiving additional reports of fake vaccine distribution and scam attempts targeting health bodies such as nursing homes.
It warned that no approved vaccines were 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.”