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Only Ministry of Health can import COVID-19 vaccines - FDA reiterates after seizure of fake vaccines in South Africa

BY: Kweku Zurek
South African authorities seized hundreds of fake COVID-19 vaccines following a global alert issued by INTERPOL warning vaccines would be a prime target for criminal networks.
South African authorities seized hundreds of fake COVID-19 vaccines following a global alert issued by INTERPOL warning vaccines would be a prime target for criminal networks.

The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has reiterated that COVID-19 vaccines can only be imported into the country by the Ministry of Health.

The FDA in an alert issued today cautioned the public against online advertising, selling and purchasing COVID-19 vaccines online.

"This alert has become necessary as a result of reports of the seizure of fake COVID-19 vaccines in South Africa. The FDA wishes to caution the general public that online advertising, offering for sale and supply of medicinal products including the COVID-19 vaccines are strictly prohibited," the FDA said in a release signed by its Chief Executive Officer, Mrs Delese A. A. Darko.

"Therefore the public should not purchase any COVID-19 vaccines online. The public and courier services including shippers and freight forwarders are further cautioned that any unauthorised imports of vaccines will be in contravention of Sec 118 of the Public Health Act and the FDA's Guidelines for Emergency Use Authorisation of Medical Products (FDA/GEN/GL-EUA/2021/04). Covid-19 Vaccines are to be expressly imported only by and through the Ministry of Health".

"The Authority wishes to assure the general public that with the collaboration of the security and kindred agencies, it will continue its monitoring and remains committed to protecting public health and safety as mandated by the Public Health Act, 2012, Act 851 The public is therefore advised to report to the FDA any suspicious activity(ies) relating to the advertising and offering for sale and supply of COVID 19 vaccines and/or related products. All reports/complaints shall be treated in confidence To help prevent the spread of the virus, we encourage all to continue to follow the COVID-19 protocols".

Vaccines approved for COVID-19 in Ghana

The alert also reiterated that the only Covid-19 vaccines authorised for use in Ghana are the Russian SPUTNIK V and the COVISHIELD (Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine) vaccines.

The importation and deployment of these two vaccines in the country are under the control of only the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service.

SA bust

The alert comes after reports of the seizure of fake COVID-19 vaccines in South Africa.

South African authorities seized hundreds of fake COVID-19 vaccines following a global alert issued by INTERPOL warning vaccines would be a prime target for criminal networks.

Some 400 ampoules - equivalent to around 2,400 doses - containing the fake vaccine were found at a warehouse in Germiston, Gauteng, where officers also recovered a large quantity of fake 3M masks and arrested three Chinese nationals and a Zambian national.

The arrests came just weeks after INTERPOL issued an Orange Notice warning law enforcement to prepare for organized crime networks targeting COVID-19 vaccines, both physically and online.

The alert also included details and images of genuine vaccines and authorized shipping methods provided by pharmaceutical companies to assist in the identification of fake vials.

In a separate statement, INTERPOL warned that no approved vaccines are currently available for sale online.

"Any vaccine being advertised on websites or the dark web, will not be legitimate, will not have been tested and may be dangerous. Anyone who buys these drugs is putting themselves at risk and giving their money to organized criminals," the statement said.