The International Criminal Police Organization, commonly known as INTERPOL, on Wednesday issued a global alert to law enforcement across its 194 member countries warning them to prepare for organised crime networks targeting Covid-19 vaccines.
INTERPOL noted that predatory criminals intend to use the rolling out of vaccines to make a kill by advertising, selling and administering drugs.
According to INTERPOL Secretary-General Jurgen Stock, as international travel gradually resumes, it is highly likely that there will be distribution of unauthorised testing kits in a bid to beat the system.
“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,” said Secretary-General Stock.
For those who often run online to look for answers, INTERPOL warned that there are thousands of websites selling illicit medicine and medical devices.
“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,” read the statement in part.
INTERPOL asked internet users to be vigilant and always check with the World Health Organisation (WHO) for health advice.
This comes as the United Kingdom approved the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for widespread use, becoming the first country to make the landmark decision.
According to health experts, the vaccine offers up to 95 per cent protection against Covid-19 disease that almost brought the world to its knees.
BBC reported that the UK has already ordered 40 million doses -- enough to vaccinate 20 million people with two shots each. Around 10 million doses should be available soon, the broadcaster said, with the first 800,000 arriving in the European country in the coming days.
"The government has today accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine for use," the Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said.
It added, "This follows months of rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA who have concluded that the vaccine has met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness."
The UK government will later publish priority groups to receive the vaccine, including care home residents, healthcare workers, the elderly and people with critical underlining medical conditions.