New report highlights growing concern of vaccine falsification

The Medicine Quality Research Group has published a new Medical Product Quality Report focussing on increasing issues around substandard and falsified (SF) COVID-19 vaccinesWith the implementation of the key innovations of COVID-19 vaccines, there have been growing numbers of reports of SF vaccines in the public domain. Given the vital role they will play in ending the pandemic and protecting the global population but severe issues with equitable access, SF vaccines are highly likely to be a growing problem.

Gloved hand holding syringe inserted into small vial
Credit: Stockphotokun

In response to the emergence of COVID-19 the Medicine Quality Research Group began to issue monthly reports of SF reports related to personal protective equipment (PPE), diagnostic tests, medicines, and vaccines for COVID-19. Now the worldwide vaccine roll-out has begun, separate reports will be prepared on SF vaccine incidents.

The vaccine report will be updated regularly and aims to support national medicine regulators, international organisations, vaccine manufacturers and distributors and civil society by summarising the current public domain literature, to help inform action and policy and encourage urgently needed joined-up interventions to reduce the risk of SF COVID-19 vaccines on global public health.

Data included in the report are from scientific literature, public alerts and warnings, and lay press. Most of the lay press information was extracted from IDDO’s MQM Globe, a free-to-use online tool that maps news reports worldwide of SF medical products.

In 2020, 21 articles reported on SF COVID-19 vaccine incidents. Between January 1 and February 10 of 2021, 24 relevant articles linked to SF COVID-19 vaccine incidents were identified through the MQM Globe database. In addition, the MQM Globe database holds many warnings from different national and international organisations about the risk of SF COVID-19 vaccines on public health.

Substandard and falsified (SF) medical products jeopardise national, regional and global attempts to improve access to effective health care because they lead to avoidable morbidity, waste financial resources and contribute to drug resistance. In the context of COVID-19, SF products undermine the global effort to tackle the pandemic. Since the beginning of the pandemic we identified hundreds of incidents with SF COVID-19 medical products and described some of the risks they hold for public health.

The Medicine Quality Research Group is a part of the Infectious Diseases Data Observatory (IDDO) and the Mahidol Oxford Research Unit (MORU) of the Centre for Tropical Medicine & Global Health, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford.

Download the report here. To contact the Medicine Quality Research Group email