In the face of an aggressive delta variant strain, the world has stepped up its fight against the disease, continuing to increase vaccination efforts and even introducing booster doses in some countries. But at the same time, fake vaccines have surfaced, with WHO warning of counterfeits of India’s Covishield New Crown vaccine, of which more than 486 million doses have been administered.
The World Health Organization ( WHO ) said Wednesday that counterfeit Covishield vaccines are circulating in India and Uganda, and asked the governments of both countries to urgently notify the WHO of the fake batches found.
The Covishield vaccine, a staple in India, is the most widely used in the country, where more than 486 million doses have been administered.
WHO has asked those who may have used the fake vaccine to report adverse events to national drug regulators and pharmacovigilance agencies, as well as to other countries, to reinforce vigilance in their Covid vaccine supply chains.
Indian authorities and Africa recently seized a suspicious shipment of Covishield vaccine from the market, which was confirmed to be indeed fake by the vaccine’s manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India, according to an Aug. 18 report.
WHO issued a medical product alert on Wednesday regarding the discovery of counterfeit Covishield vaccine in its Africa and Southeast Asia regions, saying, ” These counterfeit vaccines were reported in July and August 2021. The true manufacturer of the Serum Institute of India (Covishield) has confirmed that the products listed in this alert are counterfeit. In Uganda and India, these counterfeit products have been reported at the patient level.”
The Indian government has reportedly not issued an official statement, but some local media reports say the Indian Ministry of Health is investigating the matter. An official, who asked not to be named, said, ” The only thing we want to make sure is that no Indian has received the fake vaccine.”
However, the Covishield vaccine was exported to Asia, South America and Africa as part of a global program to vaccinate poor countries and the Modi government’s ” vaccine diplomacy ” in addition to being supplied for India’s own use, before being banned for export because of a second wave of outbreaks in April and May to prioritize the country’s needs.
WHO says only the genuine new coronavirus vaccine is indicated for active immunization of people 18 years or older against Covid-19 disease.
” Counterfeit Covid-19 vaccines pose a serious risk to global public health and place an additional burden on vulnerable populations and health systems,” WHO said, calling for urgent testing and removal of counterfeit vaccine batches in India and Uganda to prevent harm to patients.
WHO also asked countries and regions that may be affected by the falsified Covishield vaccine mentioned in its warning to increase vigilance within their supply chains.