The World Health Organisation has issued an alert on falsified Covishield, identified in Africa and South-East Asia. Covishield is the brand name under which Serum Institute of India sells the AstraZeneca-OxfordUniversity Covid-19 vaccine.

“The falsified products were reported to WHO in July and August. The genuine manufacturer of Covishield (Serum Institute of India Pvt Ltd) has confirmed that the products listed in this alert are falsified. These falsified products have been reported at the patient level in Uganda and India,” said the WHO.

The products identified in the alert are confirmed as falsified on the basis that they deliberately/ fraudulently misrepresent their identity, composition or source, said WHO, giving details of these products. They include, ‘Batch 4121Z040 – the expiry date (10.08.2021) on this product is falsified; Covishield 2ml – the genuine manufacturer does not produce Covishield in 2ml (4 doses).”

‘A serious health risk’

“Falsified Covid-19 vaccines pose a serious risk to global public health and place an additional burden on vulnerable populations and health systems. It is important to detect and remove these falsified products from circulation to prevent harm to patients,” said the WHO.

Details were not immediately available on how these falsified products were identified or where they were sourced from. BusinessLine has reached out to Serum Institute and the WHO for details.

More than 10 years ago, a consignment of fake medicine with the ‘Made in India’ label had created a stir in Nigeria. It was later found to have originated from China. Genuine Covishield vaccine is indicated for active immunisation of individuals 18 years or older for the prevention of Coronavirus disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. And the use of genuine Covid-19 vaccines should be in accordance with official guidance from national regulatory authorities, said the WHO. The agency called for increased vigilance within supply chains of countries and regions likely to be affected by these falsified products.

“Increased vigilance should include hospitals, clinics, health centers, wholesalers, distributors, pharmacies, and any other suppliers of medical products,” it said.

All medical products must be obtained from authorised/licensed suppliers and its authenticity and physical condition should be carefully checked, it added.

Vaccine scams

Recent vaccine camp scams in Maharashtra and Kolkata had reportedly used products that were not Covishield, but had been given to people under the false claim that it was a legitimate Covid-19 vaccine.