China’s top procuratorate vows to curb vaccine-related crimes after multiple fake vaccine cases reported
Published: Feb 15, 2021 06:10 PM

A dose of COVID19 vaccine BNT162b2 is given to a man. Photo: Courtesy of BioNTech

The Supreme People’s Procuratorate of China has vowed to crack down on COVID-19 vaccine-related criminal activities after arresting 70 criminal suspects involved in more than 20 cases nationwide, including the smuggling of fake vaccines abroad. 

The procuratorate’s action came in response to a series of reports that some criminal suspects produced and sold fake vaccines, and conducted mass inoculation without authorization at the early stage of the marketing of COVID-19 vaccines in China, according to Xinhua News Agency on Monday. 

As of Wednesday, 70 criminal suspects had been arrested in 21 vaccine-related cases, said the procuratorate in a public announcement, requiring all relevant departments across the country to curb the crimes in a joint national campaign.  

According to a case revealed in the announcement, a suspect, surnamed Kong, along with his associates sold about 58,000 counterfeit COVID-19 vaccines, making a profit of 18 million yuan ($2.78 million). 

Kong’s team had started producing “vaccines” since August by injecting saline or mineral water into pre-filled syringes and tried to sell them to the market by claiming that they had acquired these “vaccines” via the “internal channels” of vaccine manufacturers. 

A source close to a major Chinese vaccine producer previously told the Global Times that the public security departments had checked with the vaccine manufacturers several times to confirm that the vaccines illegally sold in markets were fake ones produced by suspects, and had not come from the manufacturers.

In November, Kong sold 2,000 fake vaccines for 1.04 million yuan to another criminal suspect, surnamed Li, who later resold them at a raised price of 1.32 million yuan.

Of all 2,000 counterfeit vaccines, 600 were secretly freighted to Hong Kong on November 11 and shipped abroad on the second day. The destination country was not revealed in the procuratorate’s announcement. 

Another 1,400 “vaccines,” which had been stored in Hong Kong and South China’s Fujian Province, were all destroyed after the suspects found out their illegal activities had been exposed. 

Li and other smugglers were captured from November 19 to 28, while Kong and his associates were arrested on December 25. 

The fake vaccines also flowed to some townships in China. In another case reported, the criminal suspects asked a village doctor to inoculate their “vaccine” buyers at home or inside cars. 

By December 2020, more than 200 people had been vaccinated with more than 500 doses, generating a profit of 547,000 yuan for the fake vaccine sellers.
China's Ministry of Public Security has launched a special campaign to crack down on illegal production and sale of counterfeit vaccines, smuggling, illegal vaccination and other vaccine-related crimes. 

Kong’s case was solved in a joint action by police in Beijing and East China's Jiangsu and Shandong provinces and other regions, according to reports from Xinhua News Agency on February 1. 

Global Times