VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in the U.K. is sending a wave of hope across the world, but INTERPOL is urging caution, warning of a looming onslaught of organized crime.
The international organization, which facilitates worldwide police cooperation and crime control, has issued a so-called Orange Alert for law enforcement in its 194 member countries.
The expectation, INTERPOL says, is that criminal organizations may being manufacturing and selling counterfeit vaccines, or may even try to steal real ones and then sell them on the black market, online and in physical locations.
Beware the fake vaccine says Interpol, as Pfizer's vaccine receives emergency-use approval in the UK. The agency believes criminal groups are likely to attempt heists of the drug in a bid to sell it on the black market more on @NEWS1130 this morning https://t.co/ouUkTYN0HF
— Ash 'I work from home now' Kelly (@AshDKelly) December 2, 2020
The global policing agency says the COVID-19 pandemic has “already triggered unprecedented opportunistic and predatory criminal behaviour.”
The U.K. became the approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in the U.K. on Wednesday, with the expectation that rollout could begin as early as next week. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the U.S., are expected to follow suit with approvals.
As more vaccines receive approval for emergency use and global distribution begins, INTERPOL says “ensuring the safety of the supply chain and identifying illicit websites selling fake products will be essential.”
Canadian health officials have said they expect to approve a vaccine around the same time as the US and European Union. Neither have approved the Pfizer vaccine yet, but the UK approval could signal other authorities are close to giving the green light #cdnpoli https://t.co/IzTRaaqqSs
— Cormac Mac Sweeney (@cmaconthehill) December 2, 2020
It is calling for coordination between law enforcement and health agencies to ensure protection.
“As governments are preparing to roll out vaccines, criminal organizations are planning to infiltrate or disrupt supply chains,” writes INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock.
He says criminal groups may try to target the public through fake websites and false cures.
Stock is pressing law enforcement to be as prepared as possible for whatever criminal groups may be planning.
In addition to targeting COVID-19 vaccines, INTERPOL says testing may also be targeted.