Counterfeit Covid-19 Vaccines: Impacting Public Health and Safety
The other shoe has dropped! At least it has in the world of counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Since early in the pandemic, the US has faced a significant and still ongoing wave of counterfeit PPE entering the country from abroad. A recent Wall Street Journal article confirms what had been feared for months; a rise in the availability of counterfeit Covid-19 vaccines. Albeit the counterfeit doses were found in Mexico and Poland, it does not portend well for the efforts to reign in the pandemic around the world.
To understand the situation, we must look at a fundamental truth when it comes to counterfeits. It is one that has been repeated for years by the brand owner community; counterfeiters are not modern-day Robin Hoods. They line their own pockets with no regard whatsoever for public health and safety. This sad fact remains true now more than ever.
Let’s look at the fundamentals of the equation, counterfeiters trade upon the success of trusted brands regardless of commodity or category. Their sole purpose is to monetize that success and the public’s desire or need to their own profit. In this instance, the public worldwide is seeking vaccinations from pharmaceutical brands which have held clinical trials and vetted the product through national safety agencies. In order to slow or stop the pandemic, the detrimental impact on healthcare systems and subsequent high mortality rates, vaccines have to be trusted and effective. Unfortunately, the counterfeiters have thus far met the need for vaccines with vials full of anti-wrinkle solution or distilled water.
The counterfeit vaccines both give the public a false sense of security when administered and undermine public trust in the overall vaccination process. The combined efforts of brand protection teams and law enforcement led to the seizure of the counterfeit products, however not before some doses were distributed in Mexico. Obviously, it is important that both law enforcement and the pharmaceutical companies continue to monitor the situation on various platforms and throughout the nether world of counterfeiting. The seriousness of the situation has not escaped anyone as this cooperation has become paramount to avoid mass vaccinations utilizing ineffective and possibly dangerous counterfeit vaccines.
We too have a role to play to keep the counterfeit vaccines from being sold and distributed anywhere in the US. If you come across a solicitation or offer for sale of vaccine, report it immediately to law enforcement. In the US, the National IPR Center is leading the fight on Covid-19 related fraud and continues its pro-active enforcement efforts. If you see vaccine available outside the normal channels, report it. If you come across vaccine that appears to be stored improperly or outside standard storage methods, do not be afraid to report it. World governments are racing to provide the vaccine at no cost to their citizens; someone offering vaccines at a $1,000.00 per dose is more interested in their own gain rather than the health and safety of entire populations. Never underestimate the callousness of counterfeiters to trade upon fear and misery. Our future depends on a new, better informed understanding of the implications of counterfeiting on us and the world.