Home Editor's Pick Chinese Counterfeit Vaccine Ring Bust Highlights Risks of Vaccine Queue Jumping

Chinese Counterfeit Vaccine Ring Bust Highlights Risks of Vaccine Queue Jumping

A counterfeit vaccine and personal protective equipment ring was busted in South Africa on March 3 just weeks after INTERPOL released an “Orange Notice” warning global authorities that organized crime was targeting the vaccine market online and in real life. 

Authorities took down the crime ring with more than 400 ampoules (approximately 2400 doses) of counterfeit vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus, which causes the disease the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) aligned World Health Organization dubbed “Coronavirus Disease 2019” (COVID-19), along with a “large quantity of fake 3M masks,” in Germiston, Gauteng, South Africa. 

Three Chinese and one Zambian national were arrested in the incident. INTERPOL says CCP police raided a manufacturing and shipping network in the mainland in response, resulting in 80 arrests and 3000 fake vaccines being seized. 

In the INTERPOL press release, an unnamed CCP Ministry of Public Security spokesperson claimed, “The Chinese government attaches great importance to vaccine security.” 

INTERPOL cautioned the public of the risks of trying to jump the vaccine queue in their country by purchasing online, as there is no such thing as an approved vaccine for sale on either the internet or dark web, “Any vaccine being advertised on websites or the dark web, will not be legitimate, will not have been tested and may be dangerous.”

In the United States, only the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Messenger RNA vaccines and the Johnson and Johnson Adenovirus Vector vaccines are available for use, and only under an FDA Emergency Use Authorization, which allows the jabs to be given to members of the public over the age of 18, circumventing the standard requirements for animal and long term testing of new vaccines.

Communist Chinese counterfeit vaccines

In early February, CCP propaganda department Xinhua claimed local police in Beijing and Jiangsu had broken up a counterfeit vaccine manufacturing and distribution ring. The reports admitted the syndicate had been operating since September 2020. 

The suspected ringleader, surnamed Kong, was passing off saline solution and mineral water as vaccines, according to a report by BBC. It is unclear if Kong’s ring is the same group implicated in the South African bust. The report said Kong had undertaken research on the packaging designs of authentic vaccines before manufacturing 58,000 fakes, “a batch” of which “were smuggled overseas, but it is not known where they were sent to.”

Examples of a real (top) and fake (bottom) mask are shown on a display board during a press conference at the Customs Headquarters Building in Hong Kong on October 30, 2020. Fake 3M masks were seized in addition to counterfeit vaccines by South African police
Examples of a real (top) and fake (bottom) mask are shown on a display board during a press conference at the Customs Headquarters Building in Hong Kong on October 30, 2020. Fake 3M masks were seized in addition to counterfeit vaccines by South African police. (Image: ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP via Getty Images)

The ring made approximately 18 million yuan ($2.78 million) during their run, according to documents in the communist Chinese court system.

The BBC says while “a batch of 600” vaccines were sent to Hong Kong before being shipped internationally last year, and others were sold at inflated markup to local hospitals in China, ring members “also conducted inoculation programmes of their own and had ‘village doctors’ vaccinate people with fake jabs in their homes and cars.”

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin claimed during a press conference, “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,” insisting the Party would “earnestly prevent” the manufacture and sale of counterfeit vaccines. 

Wang is the same CCP Foreign Ministry spokesperson who recently came under fire for participating in a smear campaign against Uyghur muslim women who gave interviews to BBC about the Communist Party’s brutal sexual assault of the ethnic minority’s women during the regime’s campaign of genocide against the Uyghur population in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region. 

South Africa isn’t alone in the scandal. Mexican authorities made six arrests in mid February after counterfeit vaccines were being sold for up to 40,000 pesos a jab ($1900 USD Approx.) in a private clinic in Monterrey. 

Criminals were hawking the only vaccine approved in the country, the Pfizer-BioNTech variant, which no private clinics are authorized to sell because all doses are supplied by the Mexican government free of charge.

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  • Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.

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