The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified unauthorized versions of Covishield in India and Uganda. As per a global news agency report, the doses were seized by authorities in India and Uganda between July and August. Even vaccine maker Serum Institute of India has confirmed to the WHO that the vaccines were fake.
Now, the WHO has issued a Medical Product Alert about counterfeit Covishield vaccines circulating in the two countries.
“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,” the WHO said.
It said the products were confirmed as falsified on the basis that they deliberately/fraudulently misrepresent their identity, composition or source.
The counterfeit Covishield vial detected in Uganda was a 5 ml dosage form containing 10 doses. It had a batch number 4121Z040 and the falsified expiry date of August 10.
The fake one detected in India was 2 ml — 4 doses vial. The SII doesn’t produce such vials.
The WHO’s Global Surveillance and Monitoring System for Substandard and Falsified Medical Products has unearthed these counterfeit vaccines.
This is not the first time that counterfeit Covid-19 vaccines have been detected. The WHO earlier identified counterfeit Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 circulating in the USA.
These counterfeit products were supplied and administered to patients outside of authorised vaccination programmes.
Counterfeit drugs and vaccines are a major problem in South Asia and Africa. The WHO has expressed concern about fake vaccines in circulation.
“Falsified Covid-19 vaccines pose a serious risk to global public health and place an additional burden on vulnerable populations and health systems. It is important to detect and remove these falsified products from circulation to prevent harm to patients,” it said and sought increased vigilance within the supply chains of countries and regions likely to be affected by the falsified products.