- As the United Kingdom is slated to be the first country in the world to carry out a large-scale rollout of the Sars-CoV2 vaccine, the dark corners of the internet are inundated with the "Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine" for sale.
- These unverified doses of the vaccine could cost as much as $1300 per dose; blatantly exploiting the unprecedented demand for vaccinations amidst the second wave of the pandemic.
As the United Kingdom is slated to be the first country in the world to carry out a large-scale rollout of the Sars-CoV2 vaccine, the dark corners of the internet are inundated with the "Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine" for sale.
The United Kingdom has officially ordered 40 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine, making it the first nation in the world to make the widely-lauded drug available for general use; with 800,000 doses expected to arrive within the next few days, and at least 50 hospitals across the country preparing for a staggered roll-out.
However, in the far-reaches of the internet, the "Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine" is making the rounds, and as reported by VICE News, these unverified doses of the vaccine could cost as much as $1300 per dose; blatantly exploiting the unprecedented demand for vaccinations amidst the second wave of the pandemic. The descriptions of these apparent vaccines on the dark web read "The doses of the COVID-19 vaccine [have] been developed by Pfizer and BioNTec", adding that “...we can deliver in any country".
Blatant profiteering during the pandemic is nothing new, which included a plethora of remedies being advertised online - including the Sanna Makki herb in Pakistan that proved to be a diarrhetic - or vendors buying off massive stocks of sanitisers and substandard protective gear, only to sell them off online for massive returns.
Unfortunately, in the midst of a crippling global pandemic and a virus that has claimed the lives of millions around the world, profiteering can come at the cost of human lives, and the apparently fabricated "vaccines" floating on the dark web are no different, and could have drastic consequences for those desperate to immunise themselves from the virus.
According to Dr. Barbara Mintzes, Associate Professor at the University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Center and School of Pharmacy, in an interview to VICE, urged consumers to remain vigilant, stating that "if a person is buying a prescription medicine or something like a vaccine, are they actually getting what they think they're getting? There is absolutely no assurance". Furthermore, she commented on the logistical complexities of shipping vaccines around the world, stating that "the vaccine needs to be kept at minus-70 degrees centigrade", and that a vial of the vaccine cannot simply be shipped out without certain precautionary measures.
These dangerous online profiteering scams can also have an impact on the supply chain of the vaccine itself, as in the United Kingdom, the government has designated an emergency use authorisation for the Pfizer vaccine, through which the doses will be released in batches to those who need it most - namely frontline healthcare workers, the elderly, and those vulnerable to pre-existing health conditions.
The "vaccines" on sale on the dark web, if legitimate, not only exposes loopholes in the supply chain mechanism, but effectively snatches the vaccinations from those who need it most, and diverts them to those willing to pay the highest price for it.
However, and more likely, if these "vaccines" are not legitimate, consumers could potentially be duped into paying a staggering amount of money for a toxic substance which could impact their health, or one that is completely benign, which could lure them into believing that they are vaccinated - when in reality, they would be extremely vulnerable to the virus, or worse, carrying it.
Digital security in the midst of the pandemic remains problematic, as a global phishing campaign has targeted organisations associated with the distribution of COVID-19, since September 2020. According to IBM X-Force IRIS analysts in a recent blog post, the phishing campaign has predominantly spanned across six regions, namely Germany, Italy, South Korea, Czech Republic, Eastern Europe and Taiwan, adding that "this phishing campaign may have been to harvest credentials, possibly to gain future unauthorised access to corporate networks and sensitive information relating to the COVID-19 vaccine distribution".
The international community awaits in anticipation to secure their own regulatory approval for the vaccine, which is said to offer approximately 95 percent protection against the virus - yet for most countries, especially those in the developing world, this process could take months.