With millions of people across the U.S. getting a COVID shot daily, everyone is closely watching the three pharmaceutical companies churning out vaccines. While people anxiously wait to see if Johnson&Johnson's pause will be lifted, Pfizer made another startling announcement. The company responsible for one of the country's approved two-dose COVID vaccines just released an alarming warning after a recent discovery. Read on to find out what Pfizer wants you to know, and for more on this vaccine, Pfizer Caused This Reaction in Half of Recipients, New Study Says.
Pfizer is warning people about counterfeit Pfizer vaccines.
Pfizer says it has identified the first confirmed cases of counterfeit versions of the company's COVID vaccine in Mexico and Poland, The Wall Street Journal reported. Vials of the vaccine were seized by authorities during separate investigations in each country. The contents were tested and found to be fake: According to Pfizer, the substance in the fraudulent Pfizer vaccines in Poland was likely anti-wrinkle treatment.
About 80 people received a fake vaccine at a clinic in Mexico after paying close to $1,000 a dose, per the WSJ. Manuel de la O, the health secretary of Nuevo León state, told the WSJ that the vials were found in beach-style beer coolers with lot numbers that didn't correspond with those sent to the state and incorrect expiration dates.
"Everybody on the planet needs it. Many are desperate for it," Lev Kubiak, Pfizer's world head of security, told the WSJ. "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." And for more vaccine guidance, Make Sure to Do This the Day After Your COVID Vaccine, Experts Say.
The WHO has warned against fraudulent COVID vaccines.
On March 26, during a World Health Organization (WHO) press conference, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned people against getting the vaccine outside of government-regulated avenues. He noted that the WHO is concerned about the "potential for criminal groups to exploit the huge global unmet demand for vaccines." Tedros added that several ministries of health, national regulatory authorities, and public procurement organizations had received suspicious offers to supply vaccines.
"Some falsified products are also being sold as vaccines on the internet, especially on the dark web, and we're aware of other reports of corruption and reuse of empty vaccine vials," Tedros said. "We urge all people not to buy vaccines outside government-run vaccination programs. Any vaccine bought outside these programs may be substandard or falsified with the potential to cause serious harm." And for more vaccine warnings, You Need This in Your Diet After Your COVID Vaccine, Doctor Warns.
People have tried to sell counterfeit vaccines in the U.S. online.
While there haven't been physical counterfeit vaccines found in the U.S. yet, people have been advertising fake vaccines online. The WSJ reported that dozens of fraudulent websites claiming to sell vaccines or have affiliations with Moderna or Pfizer have been seized by the government in the U.S. and Mexico. The companies seem to be trying to obtain personal information to be used for identity fraud, officials told the WSJ.
As early as December, the FBI and other government agencies warned the public of emerging fraud schemes related to the vaccines. A Pfizer spokesperson told Reuters in January, "Patients should never try to secure a vaccine online—no legitimate vaccine is sold online—and only get vaccinated at certified vaccination centers or by certified healthcare providers." And for more COVID vaccine news delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
There are also fraudulent masks and vaccine cards being sold.
The WSJ reported that the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, an investigative branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has recovered $48 million worth of phony masks and personal protective equipment. On April 6, the National Association of Attorneys General released a letter asking Twitter, eBay, and Shopify to prevent the sale of the fraudulent vaccine cards. "The false and deceptive marketing and sales of fake COVID vaccine cards threatens the health of our communities, slows progress in getting our residents protected from the virus, and are a violation of the laws of many states," the letter states. On April 20, another letter from 42 attorney generals across the country asked for OfferUp to also take action against the fake vaccine cards, Hawaii News Now reported. And for more vaccine news, discover The Common Vaccine Side Effect That No One Is Talking About, Experts Say.