Public warned of fake vaccines, forged vaccine passports

PETALING JAYA: The public must not fall prey to counterfeit Covid-19 vaccines or vaccine passports that are being sold on the Internet even as demand for these items grows.

Anyone selling counterfeit vaccines is committing an offence under the Poisons Act 1952, said Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS) president Amrahi Buang.

“Vaccines purchased through the Internet, we do not know where it is coming from since it is not registered. Vaccines have to be registered with the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA), ” he said.

Amrahi said that currently, all Covid-19 vaccines are being distributed by the government and none is from the private sector.

“The governments in other countries are also clamouring for the vaccines so I believe it is going to be very difficult for the private sector to secure a vaccine deal.

“Even if they are able to negotiate to purchase the vaccines, they still need clearance from the NPRA, ” he said.

He advised the public to lodge a report with the Public Complaints Management System if they spot any vaccines being sold on the Internet.

With reports that fake vaccine passports are also being sold online, Amrahi said this is going to be a huge challenge in the future when global travel is once again allowed.

He said the methods to verify if an individual has been vaccinated need to be discussed between countries as these passports might differ from country to country.

“For example, if a travel bubble is opened between Malaysia and Singapore, both countries must decide on the mechanism of the vaccine passport.

“This vaccination is also just one of the strategies to control the pandemic. We still need to practise the new norms, ” he said.

Fake vaccination certificates are being peddled by anonymous traders online, reportedly for as low as US$150 (RM620).

In the United States, criminals have been touting blank or forged vaccination record cards over sites such as eBay, Etsy and Shopify.

These record cards are made of paper, bearing the logo of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in black and white.

The individual’s details, as well as the information of their “vaccination”, is included in a pen or on a printed sticker.

Meanwhile, in Malaysia, those who are inoculated will be issued a digital certificate on MySejahtera.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba had said they will be given a physical vaccination badge with their name and MyKad number, adding that the badge cannot be forged as there are security codes on it.

Medical Practitioners Coalition Association of Malaysia president Dr Raj Kumar Maharajah said there may be opportunistic people who will take advantage during such dire times.

“Unscrupulous people will try to make a quick buck by targeting the vulnerable. Perpetrators of scams like these deserve the most severe punishment, ” he said.

He advised people to only get their Covid-19 vaccines administered through official avenues.

Malaysian Medical Association president Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said those selling fake vaccines are targeting those who are poorly informed.

He said as there is a global shortage of vaccines currently, certain individuals may be taking advantage of the high demand to turn a profit.

“Therefore, it is important for people to stay informed on the latest news and developments concerning the vaccines by getting information from reliable, trusted sources, ” he said.

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