Fake Covid-19 vaccines seized at Gauteng warehouse: Interpol
International policing authority Interpol on Wednesday said South African authorities had seized hundreds of fake Covid-19 vaccines.
Interpol said about 400 ampoules — equivalent to around 2,400 doses — containing the fake vaccine were found at a warehouse in Germiston, Gauteng. Officers also recovered a large quantity of fake 3M masks.
Three Chinese nationals and a Zambian national were arrested.
A SAPS spokesperson was not immediately available for comment, but the Interpol statement quoted national police spokesperson Brig Vish Naidoo as saying: “Since Covid-19 reached the shores of SA, the government has adopted an integrated multidisciplinary law enforcement approach.
“This, together with our association with counterparts from all Interpol member countries, is proving to be very effective as we have seen in the arrests for foreign nationals attempting to peddle fake vaccines to unsuspecting people within SA.”
Meanwhile, Interpol said in China police had identified a network selling counterfeit Covid-19 vaccines and raided the manufacturing premises, resulting in the arrest of 80 suspects and the seizing of more than 3,000 fake vaccines.
The investigation was supported and facilitated by Interpol’s illicit goods and global health programme.
The arrests came just weeks after Interpol issued an Orange Notice warning law enforcement to prepare for organised crime networks targeting Covid-19 vaccines, both physically and online. The alert included details and images of genuine vaccines and authorised shipping methods provided by pharmaceutical companies to assist in the identification of fake vials.
“While 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 Jürgen Stock.
Stock said after Interpol's warning that criminals would target the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, Interpol provided its support to national authorities working to protect the health and safety of their citizens.