LYON, France – INTERPOL has issued a global alert to law enforcement across its 194 member countries warning them to prepare for organized crime networks targeting COVID-19 vaccines, both physically and online.
The INTERPOL Orange Notice outlines potential criminal activity in relation to the falsification, theft and illegal advertising of COVID-19 and flu vaccines, with the pandemic having already triggered unprecedented opportunistic and predatory criminal behaviour.
It also includes examples of crimes where individuals have been advertising, selling and administering fake vaccines.
As a number of COVID-19 vaccines come closer to approval and global distribution, ensuring the safety of the supply chain and identifying illicit websites selling fake products will be essential.
The need for coordination between law enforcement and health regulatory bodies will also play a vital role to ensure the safety of individuals and wellbeing of communities are protected.
Finnish customs lead a European wide operation along with Europol and the French Gendarmerie Nationale, combatting falsified medicines. 12 organised crime gangs have been dismantled, which included 165 arrests. The number of arrests in Finland has not been made public, so as not to compromise ongoing investigations. 8 million EUR worth of illegal products were seized, which is around 36 million pills. Both falsified medicines and medicines used for non-prescribed purposes were involved, including cancer medication, antihistamines, analgesics and sleeping tablets. The legal medicine supply chain uses the Finnish Medicines Verification system to ensure falsifications cannot enter the market. Please remember to always buy your medicine from a licensed pharmacy!