Police Break Up Counterfeit Vaccine Network, Seize Thousands Of Fake Doses

by : Emily Brown on : 04 Mar 2021 08:29

Police in China and South Africa have seized thousands of counterfeit coronavirus vaccines after breaking up a fake vaccine network. 

Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization, based in Lyon, France, released a statement on Wednesday, March 3, in which it discussed the arrests made in relation to the ongoing coronavirus vaccine rollout.


More than 3,000 fake doses were found at a factory in China, where police arrested 80 suspects after the factory was allegedly found to be making fake vaccines.

VaccinePA Images

In Gauteng, South Africa, police found approximately 400 ampoules containing fake vaccines, the equivalent to around 2,400 doses. Authorities detained three Chinese nationals and a Zambian.

Interpol noted that the arrests came after it issued a global alert warning that vaccines would be a prime target for criminal networks.

Police find thousands of fake vaccinesInterpol

Interpol Secretary-General, Jürgen Stock, said in a press release that the organisation welcomed the result of the investigation, though noted that it is ‘only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine-related crime.’

Stock continued:

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.

These arrests, underline the unique role of Interpol in bringing together key players from both the public and private sectors to protect public safety.

Police find thousands of fake vaccinesInterpol

Interpol warned that ‘no approved vaccines are currently available for sale online’, stressing that any vaccine found on the dark web will not be legitimate and may be dangerous.

It added: ‘Anyone who buys these drugs is putting themselves at risk and giving their money to organized criminals.’

Brigadier Vish Naidoo, a spokesperson for the South African Police, said the country’s government adopted an ‘integrated multi-disciplinary law enforcement approach’ when coronavirus reached South Africa.


Naidoo said that the government’s approach, combined with collaboration from Interpol member countries, has proved to be ‘very effective’ as it has resulted in ‘the arrests for foreign nationals attempting to peddle fake vaccines to unsuspecting people within South Africa.’

Police find thousands of fake vaccinesInterpol

A spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Public Security stressed that the Chinese government ‘attaches great importance to vaccine security.’

They continued:


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.

We will further strengthen the constructive cooperation with Interpol and law enforcement agencies of other countries to effectively prevent such crimes.

Arrests are still ongoing in South Africa and China as the investigation into the fake vaccine network continues. Interpol is also said to be receiving additional reports of fake vaccine distribution and scam attempts targeting health bodies like nursing homes.

If you’ve been affected by coronavirus and want up to date advice, visit the Gov.uk help page here. If you need medical help call NHS 111 or visit online.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Health, China, Coronavirus, COVID-19, South Africa, vaccine


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