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How To Identify Fake COVID-19 Vaccines? Health Ministry Issues Guidelines: All You Need To Know

The news of fake COVID-19 vaccines began making rounds since the initial rollout of vaccines in the country. Reports of fake Covishield vaccines, even in the international purview, have effectuated in the World Health Organization issuing an alert at the beginning of the year 2021. And now, the Centre on Saturday shared a list of parameters to identify the authenticity of the Covid vaccines being used in the country to help the common people and the hospitals around the country identify the fake from the real vaccine [1].

Centre Issues Guidelines To Identify Fake COVID-19 Vaccines

On 5 September Saturday, the Union Health Ministry shared a list of parameters with the states and Union territories to identify the authentic versions of Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V vaccines. According to reports by the WHO, there have been sales of counterfeit doses of the Covishield vaccine in Southeast Asia and Africa [2].

"The genuine manufacturer of Covishield (Serum Institute of India Pvt. Ltd.) has confirmed that the products listed in this alert are falsified. These falsified products have been reported at the patient level in Uganda and India," WHO said.

WHO's Global Surveillance and Monitoring System for Substandard and Falsified Medical Products has unearthed the counterfeit COVID-19 vaccines and were being supplied and administered to patients outside of authorised vaccination programmes [3].

"Falsified COVID-19 vaccines pose a serious risk to global public health and place an additional burden on vulnerable populations and health systems. It is important to detect and remove these falsified products from circulation to prevent harm to patients," WHO representatives added [4].

Here is the list of parameters to check whether the COVID-19 vaccines are authentic:

Guidelines To Identify Authenticity Of COVISHIELD:

  • The SII product label shade is dark green, and the colour of the aluminium flip-off seal is dark green.
  • The SII logo is printed at a unique angle and position and can be identified only by experts who are aware of the specifics.
  • The brand name with the trademark will be mentioned on the original vaccine.
  • The lettering is printed in special white ink for clarity and readability.
  • The font of the Generic name is not in Bold.
  • The bottle has a "CGS NOT FOR SALE".
  • The label has a special honeycomb effect, which is visible only at a specific angle.
  • The honeycomb effect is altered slightly at strategic locations, and certain additional special elements are added to the texture design; and these subtle changes make it easy to check and verify the authenticity of the label and vial.

Guidelines To Identify Authenticity Of COVAXIN:

  • Micro text hidden in the label claims Dots, which is written as Covaxin.
  • An invisible UV helix or a DNA-like structure on the Covaxin label is only visible under UV light.
  • There is a green foil effect in X of Covaxin.
  • There is a holographic effect on Covaxin.

Guidelines To Identify Authenticity Of SPUTNIK V:

  • Currently, the English label is available only on the front and back of the carton of 5 ampoule packs for all the imported products.
  • All the other sides, including the primary label on the vaccine ampoule, is in Russian script.
  • Imported products are from two different bulk manufacturing sites from Russia, so there are two different labels for both these sites.
  • All the information and design are the same, and only the manufacturer name is different.

The Centre also added, "It has been claimed that duplicate versions of the Covishield vaccine were sold in the country. The Indian government is probing this claim and will take action if it found any substance to the allegations" [5].

"At present, three vaccines are available in India - Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik. In the coming days, three more vaccines would arrive, including one from Zydus Cadila. The other two will be from Genova and Biological Evans," he added.

On A Final Note...

The fake COVID-19 vaccines found in India was 2 ml - 4 doses vial. WHO has earlier identified as counterfeit Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 circulating in the USA and Africa.

Story first published: Tuesday, September 7, 2021, 14:58 [IST]
Read more about: covid coronavirus vaccine