US Vaccine producer Pfizer confirmed yesterday that doses of its coronavirus vaccine seized in Mexico and Poland were fake. A Pfizer spokesperson said the fake vaccine doses were being sold for as much as $1,000 a shot..
“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,” a Pfizer spokesperson told ABC News.
According to the Wall Street Journal, 80 people received fake doses of the vaccine at a clinic in Mexico. The fake Pfizer vaccine appeared to have been physically harmless, its also offered zero protection against covid.
The vials in Mexico were found in beer coolers and were initially identified by fabricated lot numbers and expiration dates, while the fake Pfizer vaccine confiscated in Poland was a cosmetic substance.
In February, health authorities in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon warned about “clandestine” sales of “alleged Covid vaccines” and urged people not to take them.
“Fake” Pfizer vaccines
In March, the World Health Organization also warned of “falsified” Pfizer vaccines found in Mexico and warned that the shots “may still be in circulation in the region.” Pfizer tested the fake vials and found they did not contain the two-shot vaccine it developed with BioNTech.
Lev Kubiak, Pfizer’s head of global security, said the desperate need and the shortfall in vaccines had led to the scams.
“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,” he told the Wall Street Journal.
Mexico is also examining a shipment of 6,000 doses of what is claimed to be the Russian vaccine Sputnik that was seized on a private plane headed for Honduras last month, the WSJ reported.
Meanwhile, Thailand’s Prime Minister announced yesterday that the National Vaccine Institute had been in talks to make a purchase the Pfizer vaccine and was waiting for the price quotes and conditions from the US based company.
“I can’t confirm [whether Thailand will get it or not] but if all goes well, 5-10 million doses can be delivered as soon as July. The government is not dragging its feet,” he said during a briefing.
He added he had responded to calls, especially from social media users, to buy vaccines from manufacturers other than the two it had already bought — AstraZeneca and CoronaVac by Sinovac Biotech.