Beware of COVID-19 scams as vaccine approaches FDA approval – Washington, District of Columbia

Washington, District of Columbia 2020-11-30 06:06:43 –

Washington (AP) — The coronavirus vaccine inching for approval in the United States is desperately expected by the coveted tired Americans …

Washington (AP) — The coronavirus vaccine, which is inching for approval in the United States, is desperately expected by tired Americans who are anxious for a way back to normal life. But criminals are also waiting to be ready to use that despair for their benefit, federal agents say.

Homeland Security investigators are working with Pfizer, Moderna, and dozens of other pharmaceutical companies competing to complete and distribute vaccines and treatments for the virus. The goal is to be especially prepared for fraud that comes after this year’s fake personal protective equipment, fake remedies, and the turmoil of criminal activity due to extortion plans.

“We are all very excited about the potential of vaccines and treatments,” said Steve Francis, Assistant Director of Global Trade Research at the Department of Homeland Security. “But I also warn against these criminal organizations and individuals trying to exploit the American people.”

No vaccine has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration yet. The FDA has approved the first treatment for the antiviral drug remdesivir, COVID-19. Both vaccines and treatments warn of potential fraud.

“The FDA is particularly concerned that these deceptive and misleading products can delay or stop proper treatment for Americans, causing serious and life-threatening harm.” Authorities said in a recent statement.

Karen Gardner, Chief Marketing Officer at SIPCA, said pharmaceutical companies need to implement precautions and brand protection to avoid fraud, as everything is in operation in such an emergency. Even second-generation vaccines may not be available. A company that acts as a bridge between North America, government, businesses and consumers. She said it would be more important to educate healthcare providers about what it would look like.

“Scams occur when there is high demand and limited supply,” she said. Despair drives people around regular channels.

Meanwhile, investigators are learning how to wrap vaccines, sending messages to field agents, creating a large database of information from more than 200 companies, and preparing to find counterfeits and crack down on dangerous scams. .. They monitor tens of thousands of fake websites and look for evidence of fake treatments sold online.

Earlier this year, hospitals and governments were short of masks, gloves and other protective equipment due to the explosive growth in incidents. Fraud has also increased. Tricksters have preyed on giving money to goods that citizens never receive without their knowledge.

Homeland security investigations have begun using 7,000 agents in collaboration with borders, FDA and FBI authorities to investigate fraud, seize fake products and arrest hundreds of people. The initiative is headquartered in the National Intellectual Property Coordination Center, a government oversight body aimed at enforcing international trade law and combating theft of intellectual property.

The agency has already analyzed more than 70,900 websites suspected of being involved in certain COVID-19 scams. Millions of counterfeit or unapproved personal protective equipment products and antivirals have been confiscated. A Homeland Security investigation found that more than 1,600 products worth more than $ 27 million were confiscated and more than 185 were arrested.

For example, home test kits have only recently been made publicly available in the last few weeks. However, investigators seized tens of thousands of fake kits a few months ago. On the dark web, scammers were selling domain names that were attractive to counterfeiters, such as “coronaprevention.org.” In the United States alone, more than 1,000 fake websites were removed daily during the pandemic.

Vaccines do not arrive fast enough in the United States, with more than 13 million cases of the virus and many cities beginning to restrict movement again as the country approaches winter. According to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the pandemic has killed more than 1.4 million people worldwide, of which more than 266,000 have died in the United States. But Francis and other researchers are worried that despair will make Americans more sensitive.

If the FDA permits emergency use of the vaccine, there will be a limited ration supply by the end of the year.

General Gas Perna, who is in charge of the government’s efforts to distribute the vaccine, said in “60 minutes” on CBS that the government was ready to distribute the vaccine within 24 hours of approval. In addition to the stockpile of the future vaccine itself, there is a kit of needles, syringes and alcohol swabs needed to give the dose. Secret stashes are monitored by armed guards.

“We have taken special precautions in this area,” he said. “It’s such a product for us. We’re doing our best to make sure the vaccine is safe.”

It has not yet been decided who will be in line first. However, Health and Welfare Secretary Alex Azar hopes that enough will be available by the end of January to vaccinate adults and health care workers aged 65 and over who are at the highest risk of coronavirus. He said he was doing it. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, said the risk is not high and it may take spring or summer before people who want to fire get sick.

The state is already preparing for what is expected to be the largest vaccination campaign in US history. First, the shot must arrive where it is needed, and Pfizer must be kept at an ultra-low temperature of minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit or minus 70 degrees Celsius. Moderna vaccines also start with freezing, but the company says it can be thawed and stored in a regular refrigerator for 30 days, alleviating concerns.

Governments of other countries and the World Health Organization, which aims to purchase doses for poor countries, must decide separately if and when vaccines should be widely deployed. not.

Meanwhile, Homeland Security investigators and others are trying to send a message to the public right now before the vaccine is approved and distributed. They say people should only be vaccinated by approved healthcare providers. Please do not answer calls that ask for personal information. And they shouldn’t click on social media posts aimed at selling cures.

“If it sounds too good to be true, it is,” Francis said.

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