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Covid-19 vaccine supply faces further threats from criminal acts

INTERNATIONAL freight transport and logistics insurer TT Club has warned of further threats to the Covid-19 vaccine supply chain brought about by criminal activities

07 April 2021 - 19:05
INTERNATIONAL freight transport and logistics insurer TT Club has warned of further threats to the Covid-19 vaccine supply chain brought about by criminal activities.

The insurer, which warned of various threats to the vaccine supply chain late last year, is now reporting a spate of disruptions to effective distribution across the globe caused by criminal activities.



The insurer has alerted all involved in the global supply chain to a range of risks due to criminal activity targeting vaccine supply.



'From theft and illegal sale of authentic vaccines to counterfeiting, substitution with fake pharmaceuticals and contamination, the threats posed by criminals attempting to take advantage of this very high -value cargo, are widespread,' TT Club said in a statement.



TT Club's managing director of loss prevention, Mike Yarwood, warned the risks should not be under-estimated. 'It is probable that the market for counterfeit pharmaceuticals is worth US$400 billion a year and the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that up to 1 million people die annually from counterfeited drugs.'



He said that the current and future supply chain challenge to distribute the Covid-19 vaccines, in all their forms, from various countries of production, will mean that these figures are likely to grow. Multiple incidents have already been reported.



In the Netherlands, upon opening the trailer doors of a full truck load of pharmaceutical products, the consignee was faced with ten male migrants who had been hiding in the trailer. The cargo was contaminated and destroyed.



In the UK, three arrests were made following the theft from a truck of Covid-19 lateral flow testing kits worth over GBP100,000 (US$137,000).



Recently, two counterfeiting organisations focusing on Covid-19 vaccines were successfully broken up. In one case more than 3,000 saline-filled vials were being sold as authentic vaccines and seized in Chinese police raids.



Another 400 vials, the equivalent of around 2,400 doses, were discovered as containing fake vaccine in a warehouse in Gauteng, South Africa. While in both cases a quantity of counterfeit goods was seized and arrests made, it remains unclear what volume of fakes had already been manufactured and shipped.



In Mexico a variety of Pfizer vaccines and others from three Chinese manufacturers (both genuine and counterfeit) have been offered for sale at up to US$1,200 per dose. Many have been subsequently administered. And in Brazil, water-filled and empty syringes have been found on the black market.



Mr Yarwood concludes: 'Should the responsibilities of the pharmaceutical companies and organisations funding the supply, end at the point of production and sale, leaving local governments to manage security through the supply chain?



'A degree of uncertainty will prevail and security effectiveness differ from region to region. Operators who are called upon to transport, store and deliver such vital supplies therefore must be super vigilant in guarding against loss through theft and the infiltration of fakes into the supply chain.'


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