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Police break up 'fake vaccine network' in China and South Africa

March 4, 2021 9:02 am

Police in China and South Africa have seized thousands of doses of counterfeit COVID-19 vaccine and made dozens of arrests, Interpol says.

In China, police made 80 arrests at a factory allegedly making fake vaccine, where at least 3,000 doses were found.

Three Chinese nationals and a Zambian were detained at a warehouse in Gauteng, South Africa, where ampoules containing 2,400 doses were discovered.

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It is not clear when exactly the arrests took place.

The discovery in South Africa was reported by the country’s Sunday Times newspaper at the end of December.

In Wednesday’s statement, Interpol said it was also getting reports of other fake vaccine rings.

Interpol, short for the International Criminal Police Organization, is based in Lyon, France and facilitates international co-operation between police forces and crime control.

The Covid-19 pandemic has claimed more than 2.5 million lives worldwide and infected nearly 115 million people, according to a Johns Hopkins University estimate.

Announcing the dismantling of the suspected fake vaccine network, Interpol stressed that no approved vaccines were “currently available for sale online”.

“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

Vaccines are a vital tool for overcoming the pandemic and competition is fierce worldwide to buy up available doses following the approval of a growing number of products by medical authorities in recent months.

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