Swiss regulator warns of fake Covid-19 vaccines online

Vaccination campaigns in Switzerland began in late December with an initial 230,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Keystone / Joe Giddens / Pool

Scammers are selling dangerous fake coronavirus vaccines on the internet, Switzerland’s health regulator Swissmedic warned on Tuesday.

This content was published on January 12, 2021 - 12:54

Vaccinations are underway across Switzerland, but demand for vaccines currently far outstrips supply. The fact that certain medicines are in short supply while some people may be in urgent need of vaccination is attracting the attention of fraudsters, warned Swissmedic.

“Criminal individuals and organisations are exploiting people’s fears by offering medicines and vaccines on the internet. They are posing as doctors or online pharmacies with the aim of making a lot of money as fast as they can,” it said in a statementExternal link.

The public should not order any medicines or vaccines through the internet as they could pose a health risk, it declared.

“Very often, the products they are offering are fakes that either contain no active ingredients at all or else contain dangerous substances that can endanger people’s health. In many cases, advance payments are made and nothing is ever delivered,” Swissmedic added.

The health regulator said cantonal vaccination programmes currently underway offered Covid vaccines free of charge to Swiss residents – with the elderly and vulnerable as a priority.

“There will be enough vaccine for everyone who wants to be vaccinated,” it said.

Ambitious campaign

To help defeat the virus, the Swiss government wants to vaccinate six million people or 70% of the population - on a voluntary basis - by summer, involving up to 70,000 vaccine shots per day.

The aim is for all elderly residents of old people’s homes to get a jab by the end of January. Anyone over 75 and the most vulnerable should get a shot by the end of February, followed by 70% of over-65s by the end of March. The rest of the population should then follow.

To achieve this ambitious goal, Switzerland has reserved about 15.8 million vaccine doses from Pfizer/BioNTech (3 million), Moderna (7.5 million) and Oxford/AstraZeneca (5.3 million). Campaigns have begun with an initial 230,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine delivered to the cantons with the help of the Swiss army.

“Anyone wishing to be vaccinated should consult their doctor and be vaccinated at an official vaccination point. If you wish to be vaccinated against Covid-19, please contact your cantonal authority,” said Swissmedic.

Relevant information about the vaccination programmeExternal link and coronavirusExternal link can be found on the website of the Federal Office of Public Health.

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