Police in South Africa and China seized hundreds of fake coronavirus vaccines, Interpol said in a statement on Wednesday.
It said 400 ampoules, equivalent to 2,400 doses, were found at a warehouse in Germiston, east of Johannesburg.
“Officers also recovered a large quantity of fake 3M masks and arrested three Chinese nationals and a Zambian national,” Interpol said as it warned residents to be careful because there are currently no approved COVID-19 vaccines being sold online.
“Any vaccine being advertised on websites or the dark web, will not be legitimate, have not been tested and may be dangerous,” it said.
Meanwhile, 80 people were arrested in China after police there raided a factory where they identified people selling fake COVID-19 vaccines. Police seized 3,000 doses.
Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock welcomed the arrests but said “this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine related crime.”
He said the agency will continue to provide full support to national authorities working to protect the health and safety of their citizens.
The international police body warned weeks earlier that criminals would target the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, on and offline.
Delayed COVID-19 vaccinations in some countries, and the experience of losing loved ones to the coronavirus pandemic appear to be forcing some to acquire their own vaccines on the black market, instead of waiting for the appropriate time to get vaccinated.
South African National Police spokesman Brigadier Vish Naidoo said his country appreciates its partnership with Interpol whose efforts have enabled them to arrest the criminal gang.
A spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Public Security said: "The Chinese government attaches great importance to vaccine security,” and added that it is conducting targeted campaigns to prevent and crack down on crimes related to vaccines.
“We will further strengthen the constructive cooperation with Interpol and law enforcement agencies of other countries to effectively prevent such crimes," the spokesman added.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.