INTERPOL issued a global warning on Wednesday, warning its 194 member countries to “prepare for organized crime networks that are taking action against COVID-19 vaccines both physically and online.
Organization Secretary General Jürgen Stock said that “criminal organizations are planning to infiltrate or disrupt supply chains” as governments prepare to introduce new vaccines.
“It is important that law enforcement agencies are as well prepared as possible for the onslaught of all kinds of criminal activities related to the COVID-19 vaccine, which is why INTERPOL has issued this global warning,” Stock said in a statement.
Interpol’s Orange Notice cites “potential criminal activities related to the counterfeiting, theft and illegal advertising of COVID-19 and influenza vaccines” as well as examples of crimes “where individuals have advertised, sold and administered counterfeit vaccines,” the statement added.
The statement noted that “criminal networks will also target unsuspecting members of the public through fake websites and fake cures, which could pose a significant risk to their health and even their lives.
Interpol also advised the public to exercise caution when searching online for medical devices or drugs.
According to an analysis by the Cybercrime Unit, approximately 1,700 of 3,000 websites associated with online pharmacies suspected of selling illegal drugs and medical devices contained cyber threats, particularly phishing and spamming malware.
“To avoid becoming a victim of online scams, it is important to be vigilant, skeptical and safe, as is usually the case with offers that seem too good to be true. Always check with your national health authorities or the World Health Organization for the latest health advice regarding COVID-19,” Interpol said.
It also warned that as the number of tests is increased to facilitate the resumption of global travel, there is a risk that “unauthorized and counterfeit test kits” will be manufactured and distributed.
According to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) report, at least 212 vaccines against COVID-19 are currently being developed worldwide (as of November 12).
Forty-eight of these vaccine candidates are in the clinical trial stage according to the WHO, while 164 are in pre-clinical testing.
The overall picture
The novel coronavirus has infected more than 63.3 million people since its first report in Wuhan, China.
More than 1.4 million people have died worldwide and more than 40.6 million have recovered by Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins.
The chart below, prepared by Statista, shows the total number of COVID-19 vaccine doses seized by different countries.
The chart below, created by Statista, shows the countries with the most COVID-19 cases.