The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) has issued a global alert to law enforcement agencies warning them to prepare for organized crime networks targeting COVID-19 and flu vaccines.
With governments across the globe preparing to roll out COVID-19 vaccines, INTERPOL warns that this presents opportunity for falsification, theft and illegal advertising of the much-needed vaccines.
According to Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL Secretary General, criminal organizations are planning to infiltrate or disrupt supply chains.
“Criminal networks will also be targeting unsuspecting members of the public via fake websites and false cures, which could pose a significant risk to their health, even their lives. It is essential that law enforcement is as prepared as possible for what will be an onslaught of all types of criminal activity linked to the COVID-19 vaccine, which is why INTERPOL has issued this global warning,” says Secretary General Stock.
The International Criminal Police Organization is therefore calling for coordination between law enforcement and health regulatory bodies to ensure the safety of individuals and wellbeing of communities are protected.
The alert comes as a number of COVID-19 vaccines come closer to approval and global distribution. Britain on Wednesday became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use and said that it will be rolled out from early next week.
With an increasing amount of COVID-related frauds, INTERPOL is also advising members of the public to take special care when going online to search for medical equipment or medicines.
“In addition to the dangers of ordering potentially life-threatening products, an analysis by the INTERPOL’s Cybercrime Unit revealed that of 3,000 websites associated with online pharmacies suspected of selling illicit medicines and medical devices, around 1,700 contained cyber threats, especially phishing and spamming malware,” said INTERPOL.
Members of public have been advised to always check with national health authorities or the World Health Organization for the latest health advice in relation to COVID-19.