As countries gear up to vaccinate their citizens against coronavirus, the International Police on Thursday in Lyon issued a global alert over organised crime networks targeting the vaccines.
Jurgen Stock, Interpol Secretary-General, who gave the warning in an official statement in Lyon, France, urged countries to prepare for organised crime networks targeting COVID-19 vaccines, both physically and online.
He, therefore, called for increased law enforcement and vigilance across its 194 member countries.
Stock said: “As governments are preparing to roll out vaccines, 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.”
The Interpol also advised 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,” it said.
On Wednesday, the United Kingdom became the first country in the world to authorise the use of Pfizer-BioNTech for emergency purposes, thus, paving way for the delivery of the vaccines from next week.
More than 100,000 people in Russia have already been inoculated against the coronavirus, said Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko, while presenting the Sputnik Vaccine to the United Nations over a video link.