The World Health Organization has issued an alert on falsified versions of “Covishield “ identified in Africa and South-East Asia Region. Covishield is the brandname under which Serum Institute of India (SII) sells the AstraZeneca-Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine.

“The falsified products were reported to WHO in July and August 2021. 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,” the WHO said.

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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,” it added.

More details sought

BusinessLine has reached out to both Serum Institute and the WHO for details. “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,” the WHO said.

The products identified in this alert are confirmed as falsified on the basis that they deliberately/ fraudulently misrepresent their identity, composition or source, WHO said, giving details of these products. They included, “Batch 4121Z040 - the expiry date (August 10, 2021) on this product is falsified; Covishield 2ml - the genuine manufacturer does not produce Covishield in 2ml (4 doses).”

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The WHO called for increased vigilance within the supply chains of countries and regions likely to be affected by these falsified products. “Increased vigilance should include hospitals, clinics, health centres, wholesalers, distributors, pharmacies, and any other suppliers of medical products,”it said.

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