20 Nov 2020
As the world is eagerly awaiting a vaccine to stop the spread of the coronavirus, some international agencies warn of its possible weaponization and misuse and predict that criminal networks will target storage facilities and distribution networks as soon as vaccines move closer to delivery.
The COVID-19 pandemic has in less than a year infected more than 55 million people and has killed more than 1.3 million worldwide. It has devastated economies and driven entire industries almost into bankruptcy.
“High demand combined with a limited supply will make COVID-19 vaccines the equivalent of liquid gold to organized crime networks as soon as one is available,” Interpol Secretary General, Jürgen Stock, said.
Transparency International also warned that vaccines could become a new weapon in the hands of powerful states, which may use them to “wield geopolitical influence,” but in the hands of criminals as well.
“Whilst most vaccines have little street value, initial limited supplies of a COVID-19 vaccine — compounded by a likely high demand from anxious populations — will make it a target for theft and diversion,” head of Major Projects at TI Health Initiative, Jonathan Cushing, wrote in an opinion piece.
Cushing also said that transparency is the key to equitable distribution and that it can ensure that access, or lack of access to the vaccine “is not used to the detriment of marginalized populations, or to foster political patronage.
By Zdravko Ljubas, OCCRP, 19 November 2020
Read more at OCCRP
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