The UN warns against trafficking of masks and medical products
VIENNA – The pandemic of novel coronavirus has resulted in an increase in the traffic of masks, disinfectants, and other medical products of poor quality or counterfeit, which may endanger their users, warned the UN Wednesday.
Organized criminal groups, exploiting the fears and uncertainties surrounding the virus, are specialized in the traffic of these facilities by taking advantage of the rising demand and shortage of supply, warns the United Nations Office on drugs and crime (UNODC) said in a report.
UNODC precise expect that the criminals are focused on the trafficking of vaccines against the Covid-19, when it will be developed.
“Health and life are threatened by criminals exploiting the crisis of the Covid-19 to take advantage of public anxiety and the increased demand for personal protection equipment and medicines”, said the director general of the UNODC, Ghada Waly, in a press release.
“The transnational groups of organized crime are taking advantage of gaps in national regulations and oversight to disseminate medical products of inferior quality and counterfeit”, she adds.
An international operation coordinated by Interpol from 90 countries and targeting the illegal sale of medicines and medical products online has led in march to 121 arrests worldwide and the seizure of facial masks defective, and more than $ 14 million (€12 million).
Compared to a similar operation carried out in 2018, Interpol has observed an increase of approximately 18% of the seizures of antiviral drugs for unauthorized and an increase of more than 100% of seizures of chloroquine unauthorized, antimalarial treatment used in some countries to treat the patients with coronavirus.
The UNODC has called for increased international cooperation, to a strengthening of the legal framework and sanctions, and training more precise and for those who work in the sector of medical products.
The report of the UNODC, which is a “preliminary assessment”, is based on the information the agency has gathered from responses submitted by the member States, of its own antennas and the analysis of open sources, media, and institutional reports.