Mexico says illicit labs are making fake COVID-19 vaccines

Mexico says that organised criminal networks have set up laboratories to manufacture falsified vaccines for COVID-19, and are also planning to steal supplies during distribution.

Just today, the Mexican army said it is investigating the theft of coronavirus vaccines from a public hospital in central Morelos state. There are concerns crime syndicate, such as the Familia Michocana and Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación, intend to cash in on the crisis.

The Mexican government has promised to make vaccinations available free of charge across the country of almost 129m people, but with lawlessness and cargo theft a massive problem in the country that looks like a major challenge.

A report in cites Mexico’s Consejo Nacional de Seguridad Privada (CNSP) whose president – Raúl Sapién Santos – also says illicit production facilities have been discovered Jalisco, Tamaulipas, Chihuahua, and Mexico City.

The article suggests Mexico may be becoming an epicentre for criminal activity surrounding COVID-19 vaccines, although it other Latin American countries, including Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil and Panama, also seem to be getting involved.

Last month, Interpol issued an Orange Notice to police forces in its 194 member countries, warning them to prepare for falsification, theft and illegal advertising of COVID-19 as well as flu vaccines this winter and beyond.

So far, only the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use in Mexico, and while there is a limited supply of the shots, the government says it has administered almost 4.5m doses. It has also ordered vaccines developed by University of Oxford/AstraZeneca and Chinese biotech CanSino. says that the role Mexican cartels have played a role in providing pandemic assistance to local communities, and that means the public may trust vaccines they supply are authentic.

Latin America – and Mexico in particular – has become a focal point of the pandemic, as a result of social inequality, large informal work forces, dense population in cities and disorganised health systems.

Adding to the problems facing the country, the head of its COVID-19 vaccination strategy, Miriam Veras Godoy, has just resigned, citing personal reasons although there have reportedly been disagreements about the rollout in government.

At last count, Mexico had recorded almost 1.7m cases of coronavirus, with more than 142,000 fatalities, the fourth highest death toll worldwide in absolute numbers. The country also currently has one of the highest daily rates worldwide in new cases and deaths.

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