Fake Covid-19 vaccines have hit the market according to a report by World Health Organization which has raised the red flag.
It said countries must now increase vigilance within their supply systems to prevent falsified products.
“Increased vigilance should include hospitals, clinics, health centres, wholesalers, distributors, pharmacies, and any other suppliers of medical products,” WHO said in a statement.
The organisation said all medical products must be obtained from authorised suppliers. The products’ authenticity and physical condition should be carefully checked.
The WHO warning comes after bogus liquid being sold as Sputnik V and Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines was intercepted in South America and South Africa.
In Kenya, only the government has imported the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is being given for free in select public and private facilities.
Importation of Sputnik V vaccine by private companies has been shrouded in confusion, with the Ministry of Health initially claiming this jab is not available in Kenya.
The ministry has yet to publish a list of private facilities allowed to sell the vaccine.
The WHO said the falsified ‘Pfizer’ vaccine in Mexico was supplied and administered to patients outside the authorised national vaccination programme.
“Laboratory analysis of the contents of the falsified products is pending and this alert will be updated as soon as results are available,” WHO said.
In South Africa, three Chinese and a Zambian were arrested after importing fake vials from China.
Some 2,400 doses of the fake vaccines were found at a warehouse near Johannesburg, where officers also recovered a large quantity of fake 3M masks, Interpol said.
The arrests in South Africa unmasked a criminal network in China that has been selling counterfeit Covid-19 vaccines.
Chinese police raided their factory, arrested 80 suspects and recovered more than 3,000 fake vaccines, Interpol said on its website.
Falsified Covid-19 vaccines pose a serious risk to global public health and place an additional burden on vulnerable populations and health systems.
Kenya Pharmacy and Poisons Board is the only agency that can authorise any vaccines into Kenya.
PPB boss Fred Siyoi said they have only authorised the AstraZeneca vaccine and Sputnik V for emergency use in Kenya.
Last week, Interpol also issued an alert over growing scams touting fake Covid‑19 vaccines.
“With criminal groups producing, distributing, and selling fake vaccines, the risks to the public are clear: these can include buying a product which not only does not protect against Covid-19 but poses a serious health hazard if ingested or injected,” reads the alert.
Other falsified medical products have been intercepted in Kenya in the past. In 2018, the WHO seized falsified Augmentin antibiotics in Kenya and Uganda.
“WHO requests increased vigilance within the supply chains of countries likely to be affected by this falsified medical product.
“Increased vigilance should include hospitals, clinics, health centres, wholesalers, distributors, pharmacies and any other suppliers of medical products,” it said at the time.
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