Pfizer has uncovered the counterfeit versions of its Covid-19 vaccine in Mexico and Poland, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The vaccine was developed in partnership with Germany’s BioNTech SE. Though there have been several reports of counterfeit versions of the Covid-19 vaccine, this seems to be the first confirmed instance.
The counterfeit vials of the vaccine were seized by authorities in separate investigations in Mexico and Poland. The vials recovered in Mexico also had fraudulent labeling. Meanwhile, the vials recovered in Poland had a liquid substance that was likely an anti-wrinkle treatment and labeled as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
These vials were tested by Pfizer and they confirmed that the vials contain fake vaccine. Pfizer suspected the vaccines recovered in Mexico and Poland were fake because they were not the type of vials the company uses for its Covid-19 shot.
The health secretary of Mexico’s Nuevo León state Dr. Manuel de la O confirmed that about eighty people were administered the fake vaccine at a clinic in Mexico at a cost of $1,000 per dose. However, they have not found any adverse events in those vaccinated.
These vials were stored in beach-style beer coolers and had different lot numbers than those sent to the state, with wrong expiration date also, the health secretary said.
Meanwhile, the counterfeit vials of the Pfizer vaccine in Poland were seized from a man’s apartment in January, but Polish authorities confirmed that no one had been administered the counterfeit vaccines.
This criminal activity related to the Covid-19 vaccines stems from the very limited supply of the COVID-19 vaccines amid the ongoing world-wide vaccination campaign. Vaccine makers such as Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, along with law enforcement agencies across the globe continue to be vigilant to strike at these criminals.
There have also been more than a dozen websites been taken down in the U.S., Mexico and some other countries that were fraudulently selling vaccine shots, claiming to be affiliates of vaccine makers. These fake and company look-alike websites also sought personal information that can be used in identity-fraud schemes.
According to the report, police in China and South Africa also seized thousands of doses of counterfeit Covid-19 vaccines in warehouses and manufacturing plants last month, arresting dozens of people. Mexico also is investigating a shipment of some 6,000 doses of purported Sputnik vaccine from Russia, which were seized from a private plane headed to Honduras.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has confirmed that no counterfeit vaccines have been discovered in the U.S. so far.
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