Thousands of FAKE Covid vaccines are seized in South Africa and China

Thousands of FAKE Covid vaccines are seized in South Africa and China but Interpol warn it ‘is only the tip of the iceberg’

  • South African police found 2,400 doses of fake COVID vaccines on Wednesday
  • Chinese authorities also raided a factory with more than 3,000 fake vaccines
  • Interpol has received reports of fake vaccine peddlers targetting nursing homes 

Police seized thousands of fake COVID-19 vaccine doses and arrested more than 80 suspects in South Africa and China on Wednesday as Interpol warned the raids were ‘only the tip of the iceberg.’

The international police body said roughly 2,400 doses of fake coronavirus vaccines in 400 ampoules were seized with a ‘large quantity’ of face masks at a warehouse in Germiston, South Africa. 

Chinese police seized more than 3,000 fake vaccines after a raid on a manufacturing plant. Authorities also arrested 80 suspects at the scene.

Both investigations were supported by Interpol as it claimed it had received more reports of criminal vaccine distribution networks targetting nursing homes and other health bodies.

South African police seized around 2,400 doses of fake COVID-19 vaccines at a warehouse in Germiston on Wednesday. Four suspects were also arrested at the scene

Officers found 400 ampoules of fake coronavirus vaccines in South Africa. Interpol warned the raids were ‘only the tip of the iceberg’

Pictures from the South Africa raids showed boxes stacked up in a largely empty warehouse, and a box full of fake COVID-19 vaccine ampoules.

‘Whilst we welcome this result, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Covid-19 vaccine related crime,’ said Interpol Secretary General Juergen Stock.

He added: ‘Following our warning that criminals would target the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, both on and offline, Interpol continues to provide its full support to national authorities working to protect the health and safety of their citizens.’

South African national police said ‘foreign nationals’ trying to sell fake vaccines in the country were among those arrested at the warehouse.

A Chinese Ministry of Public Security spokesperson said: ‘Chinese police are conducting a targeted campaign to prevent and crack down on crimes related to vaccines, proactively investigating and combating crimes related to vaccines in accordance with law.’

Interpol earlier this year issued an ‘Orange Notice’ warning authorities worldwide to prepare for organised crime networks targeting Covid-19 vaccines, both physically and online.

The global policy agency also warned that no approved vaccines are currently available for sale online, and said those buying fake vaccines from criminal networks were putting themselves at risk.

‘Any vaccine being advertised on websites or the dark web will not be legitimate, will not have been tested and may be dangerous,’ it said.

Secretary General Stock warned in December in an interview with German weekly WirtschaftsWoche of a sharp rise in crime due to the vaccine rollout, with thefts and warehouse break-ins and attacks on vaccine shipments.

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