A criminal ring suspected of peddling fake and potentially dangerous coronavirus vaccines has been busted in China, authorities say.
For anyone in China or in other nations that have received the drug Sinopharm, the discoveries should cause serious worry.
According to an ABC News review of Chinese state media, police suspect many faux vaccines already have been sold in China and elsewhere.
Authorities said they are still working to find out where the fake doses were sent. It’s likely criminals took advantage of areas where the Chinese vaccine now is being administered.
Beijing police, assisted by provincial authorities, busted the operation and arrested more than 80 people they said were taking part in the organized crime ring.
According to state media, authorities said the ring has been working since at least September, and they have no clear idea how many fake vaccines the group smuggled into supply lines.
Instead of a solution to help build an immune response against COVID-19, the criminal group allegedly sold vials of saline solution to customers seemingly expecting the real vaccine.
It’s unknown if anyone has become sick from the fake vaccines. Any criminal work done outside a sterile environment could create the potential for deadly infections.
Last month, Chinese Communist Party-owned Global Times bragged that at least 17 countries have accepted shipments of the Sinopharm vaccine. Among the nations listed are Turkey, the Philippines and Indonesia.
While many nations might claim to trust the integrity of the Chinese vaccine supply — Indonesian President Joko Widodo even received his country’s first dose on live television — the discovery of the alleged massive counterfeit ring is sure to damage confidence in the People’s Republic.
This wouldn’t be the first time counterfeit medical supplies have been found to be pouring out of the country during this deadly pandemic.
Last May, shipments of Chinese N95 protective masks bound for the United States were found to be littered with fakes.
Although China is trying to downplay the latest situation, details are lacking.
“The Chinese government highly values vaccine safety and will continue to take efforts to strictly prosecute any counterfeits, fake sales and illegal business, and other related actions that involve vaccines,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said, according to ABC.
“At the same time,” Wang continued, “China will strengthen our law enforcement cooperation with the relevant countries to earnestly prevent the spread of this type of illegal and criminal action.”
It doesn’t look as if those who might have received these vaccines will be getting answers anytime soon.
Although authorities busted an 80-person operation, with 1.4 billion people to monitor in China, it’s likely more shadowy operations are filling the black market for vaccines.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.