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Beware of fake Covid vaccines, Centre warns states

Beware of fake Covid vaccines, Centre warns states

The Centre has warned states over counterfeit versions of the Covishield vaccine circulating in the international market as the WHO has also red flagged the issue.

Covishield is manufactured at the Serum Institute of India in Pune and is the mainstay of the country’s vaccination campaign against COVID-19.  It is manufactured in collaboration with UK pharma giant AstraZeneca.

The Union Health Ministry on Saturday sent a letter to the states listing the distinct features of the label, colour and packaging of the three Covid vaccines that have been cleared for use in India so that fakes can be easily detected in comparison. Apart from Covishield, Covaxin manufactured by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, and Sputnik V which is a Russian vaccine, have also been approved for use.    

The parameters will help identify whether the vaccine is fake or genuine, the Health Ministry said in a letter written to the states, adding that it was prepared with information from the companies manufacturing Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V.

There have been reports that counterfeit versions of Covishield had been seized in Southeast Asia and Africa. Some of the counterfeit versions are also being sold across the country, media reports have said.

The World Health Organisation has issued an alert over the counterfeit versions of coronavirus vaccines.

The government has also launched an inquiry based on these reports.

"It has been claimed that duplicate versions of Covishield vaccine were sold in the country. The Indian government is probing this claim and will take action if it finds any substance to the allegations," Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya had said recently.

Meanwhile, in a significant achievement, India’s cumulative vaccination coverage crossed 68.46 crore mark on Saturday with the administration of 71,61,760 doses in the last 24 hours.