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Pfizer Confirms Some Counterfeit COVID-19 Vaccines

Pfizer says scammers distributed fake COVID-19 vaccine in Mexico, while a person in Poland was arrested in January for that effort, a media report says.

Pfizer  (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report says it has discovered counterfeit versions of the COVID-19 vaccine being distributed in Mexico and Poland, a media report says.

The New York health-care company confirmed in separate investigations that vials seized by authorities were fake versions of the vaccine Pfizer developed with BioNTech  (BNTX) - Get BioNTech SE Report, The Wall Street Journal reports

In Mexico, the vials came with fraudulent labeling and were likely filled with distilled water, Manuel de la O, health secretary of Nuevo León state, told the paper.

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About 80 people at a Mexican clinic received the fake vaccine, which sold for about $1,000 a dose. No patients were reported to have been physically harmed, the Journal reported.

The vials were found in beach-style beer coolers, and they had different lot numbers than those sent to the state and an incorrect expiration date, de la O told the publication.

No one is believed to have received the bogus vaccine found in Poland, Polish authorities said.

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Pfizer and Polish authorities said they confiscated several vials of a liquid labeled as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from a man's apartment in January.

The liquid was tested and determined to be hyaluronic acid, an ingredient in a number of skin-care and medical products.

The man was arrested and charged with fraud, Polish police said.

Pfizer expects instances of counterfeits and scams to increase along with demand for the COVID-19 vaccine, the paper reported.

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"Everybody on the planet needs it. Many are desperate for it," Pfizer's global head of security, Lev Kubiak, told the Journal.

"We have a very limited supply, a supply that will increase as we ramp up and other companies enter the vaccine space. In the interim, there is a perfect opportunity for criminals."

At last check Pfizer shares were trading 1.2% higher at $39.51.