Hundreds of fake COVID-19 vaccines seized in South Africa

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South African police have seized hundreds of fake COVID-19 vaccines and arrested four suspects in connection with the haul, the Interpol global police coordination agency said.

This comes after Interpol, which is headquartered in France, issued a global alert in December to law enforcement across its 194 member countries, warning them to prepare for organised crime networks targeting COVID-19 vaccines, both physically and online.

Some 400 ampoules – equivalent to about 2,400 doses – containing the fake vaccine were found at a warehouse in Germiston, east of Johannesburg, where officers also recovered a large quantity of fake 3M masks, the agency said on Wednesday on its website.

“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.

Interpol said investigations are continuing and it is also receiving additional reports of fake vaccine distribution and scam attempts targeting health institutions, such as nursing homes.

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