Police in Mexico and Poland recovered fraudulent versions of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine that were allegedly sold online.
A website posing as the pharmaceutical company Pfizer has sold fake COVID-19 vaccines to the general public in Mexico. No private company has been authorized to produce the Pfizer vaccine in the country. The website, that copies the design of Pfizer, stated that "you can start making purchases by phone for its distribution" in correspondence with the Ministry of Health. The portal also includes a phone number to place the orders and references to a branch in Toluca.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the counterfeit vials of the Pfizer vaccine were seized by authorities in separate investigations in Mexico and Poland. The vials seized in Mexico had fake labels. Meanwhile, the vials retrieved in Poland had a liquid substance that was likely an anti-wrinkle medicine which was labeled as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Many people at a clinic in Mexico had received a fake version of the Pfizer shot, but in Poland, authorities said no one had received the bogus vaccine seized at an apartment.
Mexico's Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks ( COFEPRIS ) said in a statement that it received information from Pfizer about a false website that allegedly sells counterfeit vaccines against COVID-19. It reported that "no private companies were authorized to purchase the vaccine against COVID-19 abroad for import and marketing purposes in the national territory." Any vaccine against COVID-19 that is sold through the internet or an unverified company constitutes a health risk.
The Institute of Health for Wellbeing Mexico shared an image of the fake site and insisted that the Pfizer vaccine is not for sale.
On March. 26, WHO said that it had detected bogus products being supplied and delivered to patients outside authorized vaccination programs in Mexico. "Falsified Covid-19 vaccines pose a serious risk to global public health and place an additional burden on vulnerable populations and health systems. It is important to identify and remove these from circulation," WHO warned in its statement.
According to government officials and records, the U.S. and other countries have seized and taken down dozens of websites fraudulently claiming to sell shots or to work in affiliation with Moderna, Pfizer, and other pharmaceuticals companies. Interpol issued a warning to law enforcement on December 2020 to stay alert for potential falsification, theft, and illegal advertising of COVID-19 vaccines.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19 including symptoms, prevention and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organisation or your national healthcare authority.