Drug manufacturer Pfizer says that it has detected fake versions of its COVID-19 vaccine in Mexico.
The fake vaccines were being sold for 11,100 pesos per dose in a private clinic in San Niocolás Garza, Nuevo León.
The counterfeit Pfizer vaccines were administered to as many as 80 people. There are no reports of any adverse effects in the individuals inoculated with the unknown substance.
The fake vaccines were found by authorities in an ice cooler and noted that they had been bottled in vials designed to look like the real thing.
Health officials in Nuevo Leon determined that the vaccines were indeed fake after comparing their lot numbers with details provided by Pfizer.
Similar fake Pfizer vaccines have also been detected in Poland. Chemists determined that the substance found within these vials is a type of skin oil used for cosmetic purposes.
The federal government confirmed last January that companies would soon be able to import authorized COVID-19 vaccines into the country, but this has not been the case.
Aside from regulatory hurdles, it is likely that due to logistical concerns, vaccine manufacturers such as Moderna and Pfizer prefer to sell doses of their vaccines in large lots to governments, rather than to companies.
No private clinics or other businesses in Mexico is legitimately selling COVID-19 vaccines.
“For the time being only the federal government is authorized to purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines. No person, clinic, or hospital is authorized to sell COVID-19 vaccines in the country,” said federal epidemiology director José Luis Alomía Zegarra.
In late March, more than 1,000 people in Campeche were inoculated with fake Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines. The vaccines were reportedly purchased privately and administered to workers at Grupo Karim’s, a textile factory in Campeche, police told local media.
Earlier in the month, authorities at the airport in Campeche confiscated thousands of fake COVID-19 vaccines. The fake vaccines entered Mexico on a private aircraft that had arrived from Honduras and were found hidden in ice coolers among drinks and snacks.
The government is advising people to remain vigilant and not fall victim to scams offering COVID-19 vaccines for sale on social media and elsewhere.