Fake Covid jabs found in India, Uganda
A health worker shows a vial of the Covishield vaccine (Photo by TAUSEEF MUSTAFA / AFP via Getty Images)
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday (16) said it has identified counterfeit versions of the India-made Covid vaccine Covishield at the patient level in Uganda and India, claiming that the Indian producer has also confirmed that listed products are fake.
“The genuine manufacturer of Covishield (Serum Institute of India Pvt. Ltd.) has confirmed that the products listed in this alert are falsified. These falsified products have been reported at the patient level in Uganda and India,” WHO said in a statement, with a warning that fake vaccines “pose a serious risk to global public health”.
WHO also mentioned that the products, that were reported in July and August this year, were confirmed as falsified on the basis that they “deliberately/fraudulently misrepresent their identity, composition or source”.
In India, Covishield 2ml was identified though SII does not produce the vaccine in 2ml. In Uganda, Covishield with Batch 4121Z040 and the expiry date (10.08.2021) was found, which SII confirmed as fake, WHO said.
WHO’s Global Surveillance and Monitoring System for Substandard and Falsified Medical Products has unearthed these counterfeit vaccines.
The body has now called for increased vigilance within the supply chains of countries and regions likely to be affected by the falsified products.
“Increased vigilance should include hospitals, clinics, health centres, wholesalers, distributors, pharmacies, and any other suppliers of medical products,” the global agency said.
There has been no official statement by the Indian government, but local reports said the country’s health ministry was investigating the matter.
“We have not received any complaint from anywhere in India so far. We are investigating the matter,” a senior health ministry official told a local media outlet on condition of anonymity.
SII is yet to comment on the matter.
Covishield is the Indian-made version of AstraZeneca’s jab and is the most widely used vaccine in India with more than 486 million doses administered so far.
SII had also supplied millions of Covishield vaccines to countries in Asia, Africa and South America – as part of deals that were inked with various governments and the global Covax scheme for poorer countries until Indian prime minister Narendra Modi banned exports of Covid vaccine in the wake of India’s devastating second Covid wave in April and May.