WHO warns of more falsified Covishield vaccine in Myanmar

More falsified copies of the COVID-19 vaccine Covishield have been uncovered, this time in Myanmar, suggesting the distribution of the counterfeit is more widespread than first appeared.

A new alert from the World Health Organization notes that the fake Covishield (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19) shots have been found in the supply chain at the patient level in Myanmar, adding to earlier seizures in India and Uganda.

The genuine manufacturer of Covishield - Serum Institute of India which manufactures it under license from AstraZeneca and Oxford University – has confirmed that the products listed in the WHO alert are not genuine.

The latest counterfeit has the falsified batch number 4126Z079, a manufacturing date of 08.05.2021 and expiry date of 01.11.2021, and is presented in 5ml (10-dose) vials, according to the WHO alert. The packaging language is English (see image below) and the name of the vaccine is misspelled as "Covisheld".

"Falsified COVID-19 vaccines pose a serious risk to global public health and place an additional burden on vulnerable populations and health systems," said the WHO in its alert.

"It is important to detect and remove these falsified products from circulation to prevent harm to patients."

Serum Institute has supplied millions Covishield vaccines to countries in Asia, Africa and South America as part of the international COVAX donation scheme, although it recently restricted exports as it tried to get its domestic vaccination campaign on track. More than 600 million doses of Covishield have been administered so far in India alone.

It's not clear how widely the falsified vaccines have been distributed. The WHO advises that all medical products must be obtained from authorised/licensed suppliers, and the products' authenticity and physical condition should be carefully checked.

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