COVID vaccine maker Pfizer has warned Australians not to try to buy its vaccine through the internet, fearing consumers could fall prey to cybercriminals selling counterfeit coronavirus vaccines.
The US pharmaceutical company told a joint parliamentary committee to review vaccine safety risks in Australia that due to the pandemic, “there will be an increase in the prevalence of fraud, counterfeiting and other illicit activities with regard to vaccines and treatments for COVID 19 “.
Australia is expected to import 20 million doses of Pfizer vaccine by the end of the year. Pfizer said it has worked with governments to secure the dose supply chain. The company also reminded governments and health agencies that its products are not available for sale through private channels, including online pharmacies.
“The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is not sold online. Sales of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments over the internet, including online pharmacies, are not legitimate. It cannot be purchased in individual doses, ”the company said in its submission.
Pfizer also said it uses “robust security measures” on packaging to have full visibility of where its doses are moving. “We use GPS-enabled thermal sensors with a dedicated Pfizer control tower that tracks the location and real-time temperature of each vaccine shipment on its pre-defined routes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Fraud experts remain concerned about the potential for vaccine fraud in Australia after Interpol issued a global warning this year over fake vaccines and treatments sold online. The only way to get vaccinated is through vaccination centers or government-run health clinics.
Academics at Deakin University’s Supply Chain and Logistics Center and Cyber Security Center warned in their submission to the committee that criminals could be tempted to exploit disruption to the deployment in Australia.
“It is very likely that cybercriminals and hostile foreign countries will use the failures, disruptions or negatives of the Australian vaccine rollout to monetize the opportunity (for example, sell fake vaccines due to deployment delays government) or, in a worst-case scenario, cause political and economic disruption in Australia, ”they said.