The Fight the Fakes Alliance, along with the entire global health community is deeply concerned by the rapid global spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) declaration of a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Among the public, there are increasing concerns about contracting the virus and medicine shortages related to the coronavirus outbreak, leading people to take matters into their own hands to treat and protect themselves.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in reported falsified medical products including protective equipment, such as surgical masks, hand sanitizers and gloves, as well as diagnostic tests, potential treatments and even “cures”. The World Health Organization (WHO) currently only recommends corticosteroids (i.e. dexamethasone, hydrocortisone or prednisone) for the treatment of patients with severe and critical COVID-19.

In early December first COVID-19 vaccines received emergency regulatory approval in several countries. In response, Interpol has issued a global alert to law enforcement across the world warning them to prepare for organized crime networks targeting COVID-19 vaccines, both physically and online.

The Fight the Fakes Alliance and its members would like to stress that the risk of falsified versions of such vaccines being advertised is imminent. With approved diagnostics, treatments and vaccines it is now more important than ever to only purchase medical products from trusted, authorized sources. Particularly buying COVID-19 medical products from unknown, unauthorized online sellers or online pharmacies bears a high risk of purchasing falsified products. Using medical products that have not been approved for COVID-19 without medical supervision pose a significant risk to patient’s well-being and safety.

Any misleading and deliberately fake information on COVID-19 circulating on social media and media has been described as an infodemic by the WHO.

The Fight the Fakes Alliance is calling on all its members and the broader global health community to raise awareness of falsified medical products promising to treat, protect from or cure COVID-19.   

We are no longer just fighting a virus, but now also an ever-growing infodemic.

For further advice and the most recent information, please visit WHO’s website and and if you’re feeling sick, phone your doctor for advice and next steps.