There is a boom in Covid vaccines for sale on the dark web, with vendors offering "stealth deliveries", overnight shipping, and asking for payments in bitcoin. The Financial Times report
Police in China and South Africa seized thousands of doses of fake Covid-19 vaccines and made more than 80 arrests after uncovering a crime network distributing counterfeit vaccines, according to Interpol.
The export scam was discovered after police in eastern China identified a network selling counterfeit inoculations. Officers broke into a manufacturing facility and found more than 3,000 fake vaccines. More than 80 people were arrested, reports the FT .
Separately, South African police found 400 phials of the fake vaccine, enough for around 2,400 doses, in a warehouse just outside Johannesburg. The agents also confiscated a large amount of counterfeit face masks and arrested three Chinese citizens and one Zambian.
The joint investigation was coordinated by Interpol's Illicit Goods and Global Health Program, which worked to prevent criminals from exploiting the disruption caused by the pandemic.
Jürgen Stock, Interpol secretary general, warned that the discovery of this network represents "only the tip of the iceberg" of vaccine-related crime. The agency is following up on other reports of fake vaccine distributions and scam attempts against health agencies, such as nursing homes.
Interpol highlighted in December the growing risk of criminal gangs trying to capitalize on the global demand for Covid-19 vaccines by selling fake inoculations or stealing real ones. The agency said the pandemic has already triggered "unprecedented opportunistic and predatory criminal behavior" and urged its 194 member countries to promote close cooperation between police and health officials.
Research by the Financial Times has already exposed the boom in vaccines for sale on the dark web, with vendors offering "stealth deliveries," overnight shipping, and demanding payments in bitcoin. Experts said many of the advertised vaccines were either fake or would never be sent.
Security officials in the UK and the US have issued separate warnings that vaccine research is increasingly becoming a spy target for hostile countries that may also seek to disrupt supply chains.
Last summer, Britain's National Cyber Security Center, a branch of the GCHQ, said state-backed Russian hackers had targeted pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions involved in vaccine research in the UK, US and Canada. The US has accused China of hacking into US health and research institutions working on Covid-19 vaccines, treatments and tests.
Brigadier Vish Naidoo, a national spokesman for the South African police, welcomed Interpol's coordination efforts to help arrest "foreign nationals who try to sell fake vaccines to unsuspecting people" in his country. South Africa has so far administered only 70,500 doses, equivalent to 0.1 doses per 100 residents, according to the FT's vaccine tracker .
A spokesman for the Chinese public security ministry said the Chinese government attaches "great importance" to vaccine safety.
"The Chinese police are conducting a targeted campaign to prevent and crack down on vaccine-related crimes, proactively investigating and fighting vaccine-related crimes in accordance with the law," the spokesperson said.
Article taken from the foreign press review of Eprcomunicazione
This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL https://www.startmag.it/sanita/la-polizia-in-cina-e-sudafrica-sequestra-falsi-vaccini-covid-report-ft/ on Sat, 06 Mar 2021 05:38:30 +0000.