The international police agency Interpol has warned its 194 member countries that organised crime is expected to attack the vaccine trade, both real and online.
The warning came in the form of an Orange Notice, used “to warn of an event, a person, an object or a process representing a serious and imminent threat to public safety.”
The warning outlines some of the ways organised crime can be expected to interfere in the transport and shipping of vaccines, including production of fake vaccines, theft of real vaccines and illegal advertising of Covid as well as flu vaccines.
The pandemic, Interpol said, has so far provided many examples of opportunistic and predatory criminal behaviour on an unprecedented scale. Some examples have already emerged of advertising of the sale and administering of fake vaccines.
Several vaccines are on the verge of being approved and distributed, making it important to ensure the safety of the supply chain and to track down fake ads for fake products, particularly online. And since in the beginning there is sure to be a shortage of available vaccines, and a system of priority recipients in place, that would be the best time for criminals to strike to obtain the best returns.
“Criminal networks will also be targeting unsuspecting members of the public via fake websites and false cures, which could pose a significant risk to their health, even their lives,” said Jürgen Stock, Interpol secretary-general.
And vaccines will not be the only target. As air travel reopens, testing will become more important, offering organised crime the opportunity to take part in the production and distribution of unauthorised and falsified testing kits.
“It is essential that law enforcement is as prepared as possible for what will be an onslaught of all types of criminal activity linked to the Covid-19 vaccine, which is why Interpol has issued this global warning,” he said.