In a desperate attempt to try and exploit the ongoing global pandemic, criminals have been distributing fake versions of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Poland and Mexico. Seized vials were tested by the company and were found to contain bogus vaccines, Pfizer confirmed.
As reported by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), during two separate investigations, Pfizer tested confiscated vials from Mexico and Poland. They found that some of the seized vials in Mexico were just distilled water and also had incorrect labeling, while vials from Poland that were labeled as the Pfizer vaccine actually contained anti-wrinkle injectable hyaluronic acid.
The report disclosed that around 80 people in Mexico received the bogus version of the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic, which they had paid for at almost $1,000 a dose. Fortunately, no one thus far seemed to have been physically harmed by it.
The seized vaccine vials in Poland were confiscated from a man's apartment before anyone received it, Polish authorities confirmed.
"Pfizer has identified counterfeit versions of its COVID-19 vaccine in Mexico and Poland," Pfizer confirmed in an email statement to Insider. "We are cognizant that in this type of environment – fueled by the ease and convenience of e-commerce and anonymity afforded by the Internet – there will be an increase in the prevalence of fraud, counterfeit and other illicit activity as it relates to vaccines and treatments for COVID-19."
As other countries around the world struggle to get their populations vaccinated because demand exceeds the availability, this unfortunately opens up a market for criminals to operate in.
“Everybody on the planet needs it. Many are desperate for it,” Lev Kubiak, Pfizer’s world head of security stated in the report by WSJ. “We have a very limited supply, a supply that will increase as we ramp up and other companies enter the vaccine space. In the interim, there is a perfect opportunity for criminals.”
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