Pfizer has uncovered counterfeit jabs of its COVID-19 vaccine in Mexico and Poland — with some of the vials containing anti-wrinkle treatment, it was revealed Wednesday.
The drug giant said it tested “vaccines” seized in separate investigations in the countries and determined they were fakes, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The vials from Mexico were found in beach-style beer coolers and had fraudulent labeling with a wrong expiration date, said Dr. Manuel de la O, health secretary of Nuevo León state.
About 80 people at a clinic had received the fake shot for about $1,000 a dose, he said.
The bogus inoculation in Poland was likely an anti-wrinkle treatment, Pfizer said.
It’s not believed that anyone was administered the injection before the vials were seized in a man’s apartment, the outlet reported.
Lev Kubiak, Pfizer’s world head of security, acknowledged that the global vaccination program is ripe for such scams.
“Everybody on the planet needs it. Many are desperate for it,” he told the newspaper. “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.”
Tony Pelli, a consultant with BSI Group, which specializes in drug security, said touting fake inoculations as the real deal is easier for criminals than getting their hands on the shot, since many drugmakers and countries have increased security for the vaccines.
“With counterfeits, you kind of can just show up, and say, ‘Here’s COVID vaccines, we’ve got some, don’t ask how,’ and start distributing them,” Pelli told the newspaper.
The so-called dark web has also attracted cyber criminals looking to pedal fake vaccines, according to Check Point Research, an IT security firm.
“It’s clear to us that the target audience for dark net vaccine vendors are actually dealers, not necessarily the public at large,” Ekram Ahmed, spokesperson at Check Point, told Fox News.
Ahmed said the firm has seen a spike in ads that pretend to be for vaccine makers such as Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca.
“The vendors want foot soldiers on the ground, in multiple geographies, to distribute the full spectrum of coronavirus services: vaccines, vaccination certifications and negative COVID tests,” he said.