Vaccine stakeholders like health officials, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies are taking stringent measures to prevent Covid vaccines from landing in the hands of criminals. This happened after there were cases of thieves pilfering precious medicines and Covid-related equipment like masks, protective gear and tests.
Currently, the vaccine vials are being stored in secure, undisclosed places. Pharma companies like Pfizer are using GPS software to track shipments and monitor distribution. They are also turning to measures like plotting false shipments to confuse criminals. Corning Inc, a renowned glassmaking company is providing vials with black light verification systems to discourage counterfeiting.
Many pharmacies have also been seen strengthening their security systems. “We’re appropriately paranoid about something that has to do with both cybersecurity and bodily safety. We’re taking nice precautions to make sure that these are safeguarded,” Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy, US Health and Human Services Department (HHS), was quoted as saying by The Wall Street Journal.
US Marshals are to accompany shipments of vaccines, once they are approved for distribution, claimed Mango.
For storage, five major hospital programmes and multiple state-level ones are securing infrastructure to store the vaccine at extremely low temperatures and away from threat.
Pfizer, Moderna Inc, and other pharma firms are in the initial days of testing. Speculations are being made about authorisation of shots as early as November and December. The shots are being made in a low capacity to make all vaccines a coveted commodity.
The last five years have seen a 70% increase in theft and counterfeiting of pharmaceutical items across the world, according to the Pharmaceutical Security Institute, a trade group. “They don’t wish to admit it’s an issue. It’s one other type of expense for them,” said Anna Nagurney, a professor at Amherst College of Massachusetts, told WSJ while commenting on the increased rise of theft in the pharma industry.
Recently, US National Security Advisor Robert O’ Brien accused China of stealing coronavirus vaccine research. He said China wishes to dominate every industry that matters.