Health and Science

WHO warns against sales of counterfeit Covid vaccines on the dark web

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Key Points
  • The World Health Organization warned against counterfeit Covid-19 vaccines sold on the dark web during a press conference Friday.
  • The WHO urged people to buy vaccines only from government-run programs.
  • WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the group is also aware of reports of "criminal groups" reusing empty vaccine vials and tampering with the Covid vaccines supply chain.
Small bottles labelled with "Vaccine" stickers stand near a medical syringe in front of displayed "Coronavirus COVID-19" words in this illustration taken April 10, 2020.
Dado Ruvic | Reuters

The World Health Organization warned against counterfeit Covid-19 vaccines sold on the dark web during a press conference Friday.

"We urge all people not to buy vaccines outside government-run vaccination programs. Any vaccine outside these programs may be substandard or falsified, with the potential to cause serious harm," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The WHO's top official said the group is also aware of reports of "criminal groups" reusing empty vaccine vials and tampering with the Covid vaccines supply chain.

"We urge the secure disposal or destruction of used and empty vaccine vials to prevent them from being reused by criminal groups," Tedros said. He asked countries and individuals to watch for suspicious vaccine sales and report them to national authorities. "Information flow is essential to mark, to map global threats and protect confidence in vaccines," he said.

WHO emphasized that any harm from falsified vaccines does not reflect the safety of genuine vaccines.

Law enforcement in the U.K. cataloged more than 6,000 cases of Covid-related fraud amounting to £34.5 million (US$48 million) in the past year, the BBC reported.

Americans have lost $382 million to fraud linked to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Federal Trade Commission. More than 217,000 people have filed a Covid-related fraud report with the agency since January 2020.