Fake COVID-19 vaccines have been discovered by Pfizer in Mexico and Poland

Fake COVID-19 vaccines have been discovered by Pfizer in Mexico and Poland
Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant in Portage, Michigan, U.S., December 13, 2020.AP/Morry Gash/Pool
  • Pfizer has discovered at least two instances of fake COVID vaccines, the company said on Wednesday.
  • In Mexico, around 80 people paid $1,000 each for fake COVID vaccines, according to the WSJ.
  • In Poland, vials containing anti-wrinkle treatments were reportedly being passed off as COVID shots.

Fake coronavirus vaccines are popping up, with the first two cases in Mexico and Poland, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said on Wednesday.

In Mexico, around 80 people reportedly paid $1,000 apiece for a shot that was advertised as Pfizer's vaccine for COVID-19, according to the Wall Street Journal. In Poland, a man with vials of what appeared to be anti-wrinkle treatment was passing it off as a vaccine; he was caught before any shots were administered, local authorities told the WSJ.
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Pfizer confirmed the report in a statement emailed to Insider on Wednesday.
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"Pfizer has identified counterfeit versions of its COVID-19 vaccine in Mexico and Poland," the statement said. "We are cognizant that in this type of environment - fueled by the ease and convenience of e-commerce and anonymity afforded by the Internet - there will be an increase in the prevalence of fraud, counterfeit and other illicit activity as it relates to vaccines and treatments for COVID-19."

The statement stressed that, "no legitimate vaccine is sold online," and said the company's working with "governments, law enforcement, healthcare providers and others to combat this illegal trade."

Read more: EXCLUSIVE: A top research and development exec at GlaxoSmithKline is leaving the company, which is the world's vaccine leader
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Pfizer, together with Johnson & Johnson and Moderna, are the three primary producers of COVID vaccines. All three are working with law enforcement globally to police fake vaccine distribution.

Interpol said it confiscated thousands of vials of counterfeit coronavirus vaccine in raids earlier this year in South Africa and China. No fake shots have been discovered in the United States, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.
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