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Mexican authorities seize fake batch of Russian COVID-19 vaccine

Mexican authorities seize fake batch of Russian COVID-19 vaccine
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Authorities in Mexico announced that the government’s customs agency seized thousands of fake doses of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine. 

The seizure of the fake vaccine batch of 5,775 doses was first announced by the Mexican government in a press release on Wednesday, and was confirmed Thursday by the Russia Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which oversees exports of the inoculation. 

“Analysis of the photographs of the seized batch, including the design of containers and labels, suggests that it is a fake substance which has nothing to do with the original vaccine,” the RDIF said in a press release. “The shipment’s procedure was also in violation of packaging and transportation protocols for the official Sputnik V vaccine.”

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The RDIF added that each of the vaccine’s vials contains a unique QR-code allowing it to be traced back to its manufacturing origin. 

“Sputnik V is transported only by authorized carriers required to abide by the highest safety standards, including remote temperature and security controls,” the RDIF said, adding that it wished to express “gratitude” to the Mexican government for seizing the illegal shipment. 

The Mexican government said the fake doses were seized at the Campeche International Airport while en route by private plane to Honduras. 

Images of the seized vials showed them hidden among bottles of soft drinks in an ice box and containing labels with spelling errors in Russian. 

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Mexico late last month received its first shipment with 200,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine after the inoculation was approved for emergency use by Mexican health regulators, Reuters reported.

Russia’s two-dose vaccine, which has a reported efficacy rate of 92 percent for preventing coronavirus infections, has already been authorized for emergency use in at least 20 countries. 

Last week, Swiss company Adienne Pharma & Biotech announced a deal with the RDIF to manufacture the Sputnik V vaccine in facilities across Italy, with a goal of developing several million doses by the end of 2021. 

Despite the increased distribution of the Russian vaccine across the globe, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday claimed "unprecedented" pressure is being placed on countries to reject its coronavirus vaccine. 

Several reports said that the U.S. was putting pressure on various countries not to accept imports of the Russian inoculation, though a State Department official said in a statement to The Hill this week that it was in the U.S.’s best interest “to support the rapid distribution of as many vaccines ​deemed safe and effective by stringent regulatory authorities as possible in order to bring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.”