Council of Europe: Covid-19: what measures to fight against fake vaccines?

Strasbourg   |   27/04/2021

“Amid the rise in counterfeiting and other illegal activities related to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Council of Europe is issuing new recommendations to governments based on its Convention on the counterfeiting of medical products and similar crimes involving threats to public health (MEDICRIME Convention).

As regulators around the world approve more vaccines for sale, reports of seizures of counterfeit vaccines continue to rise.

In an opinion published today, the MEDICRIME Committee sets out 13 measures to prevent and combat the presence of counterfeit vaccines on the market, including vaccines that misrepresent their identity and/or source, as well as the diversion of legally produced vaccines from the legal supply chain.

The Committee proposes preventive measures in co-operation with the relevant sectors to strengthen the supply chain, ensure the authenticity of vaccines, and improve arrangements for the disposal of Covid-19 vaccine waste.

The Committee also emphasises the importance of training relevant government officials (customs officers, police and judges) and raising public awareness.

Background

The only international treaty of its kind, the 2011 Convention on the counterfeiting of medical products and similar crimes involving threats to public health (MEDICRIME Convention) has been ratified by 18 countries and signed by 15 others in Europe and beyond.

The Convention provides a framework for national and international co-operation between the competent health, police and customs authorities at both national and international level, measures for crime prevention by also involving the private sector, and the effective prosecution of crime and the protection of victims and witnesses.

In 2020, the MEDICRIME Committee published an opinion on the application of the Convention in the context of Covid-19.

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