No approved Covid-19 vaccines are available for sale, warn police

08 March 2021 - 12:50 By unathi nkanjeni
Police have warned South Africans not to purchase fake Covid-19 vaccines. Stock photo.
Police have warned South Africans not to purchase fake Covid-19 vaccines. Stock photo.
Image: Sasirin Pamai/

As SA prepares for the second phase of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, the police have warned people to be  wary of sales of fake vaccines.

The second phase of the rollout is set to take place between late April and early May after the vaccination of health workers has been completed.

During his recent address to the nation, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the second phase will include the elderly, essential workers, persons living in or working in institutional settings and those with co-morbidities.

“For this phase, we will be activating many more sites for vaccination in the public and private health care sectors so we can reach many people in the shortest possible time,” he said.

Warning people to not fall for vaccine scams, police spokesperson Col Brenda Muridili said there were no approved Covid-19 vaccines for sale in SA.

“No approved vaccines are currently available for sale online or physically. Any person who buys these drugs is putting themselves at risk and giving their money to organised criminals,” cautioned Muridili.

“The police will continue to detect and investigate anyone involved in the organised syndicates trying to enrich themselves by smuggling and distributing unregistered and illicit medicines.”

Fake vaccine bust in Gauteng

The warning follows last week’s bust at a warehouse in Germiston, Gauteng, when international policing authority Interpol seized hundreds of fake Covid-19 vaccines.

Interpol said about 400 ampoules — equivalent to around 2,400 doses — containing the fake vaccine were found and officers also recovered a large quantity of fake 3M masks.

Three Chinese nationals and a Zambian national were arrested.

Charles Chigwedere, 45, Liang Pengcheng, 31, Zhang Jian, 30, and Chen Jianfu, 41, appeared in the Germiston magistrate’s court and the case was postponed to May 28 for further investigation.

Vaccine shortage

SA is likely to miss its mark to vaccine 1.5 million people by the end of the month.

According to health deputy minister Joe Phaahla, while SA managed to secure 11 million vaccines from Johnson & Johnson (J&J), the 20 million vaccines from Pfizer and additional supplies through the Covax facility and the African Union were not due to arrive as soon as the government had hoped.

As of Sunday, the total number of vaccines administered was 101,841.

“We expect to complete only 700,000 vaccines by the end of March,” said Phaahla.

“We are expecting more J&J vaccines and some from Pfizer, but we will still be behind target. However, we hope to be back on track once production of the different vaccines ramps up.”

Speaking in parliament, Phaahla also revealed the vaccines being used in the current rollout were part of a batch J&J was using to conduct their worldwide human “expanded study”.

“It is legally regarded as an expanded study because as we are rolling out, the vaccine is not registered. The documentation for the application for registration of the vaccine has been submitted to the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority and documentation has also been submitted to other authorities.”