As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the world and with the global rush in the development and distribution of vaccines, criminal groups and unscrupulous enterprising people have also been active in counterfeiting COVID-19-related health products. The Philippines through the Philippine Center on Transnational Crime, INTERPOL National Central Bureau, Office of the President has received reports that South African authorities have seized hundreds of fake COVID-19 vaccines and Some 400 ampoules containing the fake vaccine were found at a warehouse in Germiston, Gauteng. Further investigation by the INTERPOL revealed the presence of organized crime networks targeting COVID-19 vaccines, both physically and online. Concerned pharmaceutical companies assisted in the identification of fake vials. Criminals have been put behind bars and investigations are continuing.
In February 2021, the World Health Organization reported that a falsified COVID-19 vaccine in Mexico identified as “BNT162b2”, manufactured by Pfizer- BioNTech with lot number 783201. The falsified product was supplied and administered to patients outside authorized vaccination programs. The genuine manufacturer of COVID-19 Vaccine BNT162b2 confirmed they did not manufacture the product. Laboratory analysis of the contents of the falsified products is still pending as of today. Falsified COVID-19 vaccines pose a serious risk to global public health and place an additional burden on vulnerable populations and health systems.
The FDA would like to inform the public that globally no approved COVID-19 vaccines are currently available for sale online. In the Philippines, no COVID-19 vaccines are allowed to be offered for sale in any pharmacy, botika or drug outlets. Any vaccine being advertised on websites are not legitimate. Also in the Philippines, only COVID-19 vaccines with Emergency Use Authorization and those procured by and through the Government of the Philippines are allowed.
The public is further enjoined to receive their COVID-19 vaccination shots in DOH-authorized Vaccination Sites. All candidate vaccines will be screened by physicians and professional healthcare providers and the vaccines will be administered by DOH-authorized health workers.
People who may have knowledge on the manufacture, distribution, or supply of fake and falsified vaccines and medicines are advised to immediately notify the FDA at eReport which can be accessed at www.fda.gov.ph/ereport. The FDA requests all concern stakeholders to increase their vigilance to ensure that the national vaccine supply chain remains free from fake and falsified products.
For more information and inquiries about this advisory, kindly contact FDA through email [email protected] or [email protected] indicating on the subject the concerned Advisory, or call (02)8857-1900 local 8309.
Dissemination of this advisory to all concerned is hereby requested.