The government has shared a set of parameters with all states and union territories to identify any fake Covid-19 vaccines. This comes days amid a backdrop of concerns by the World Health Organization (WHO) over counterfeit/falsified Covishield vaccine being identified in the South-East Asia and Africa region of WHO.
As of now, the Serum Institute of India’s Covishield, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Russian vaccine Sputnik V are being administered to eligible beneficiaries under the ongoing COVID-19 inoculation drive in the country.
But, the question is: How will you be able to identify a fake vaccine?
In a letter on September 2, Additional Secretary Manohar Agnani wrote to additional chief secretaries and principal secretaries (Health) of all states and UTs about the genuine Covid-19 vaccine labels and additional information so as to ensure no fake vaccines are administered in the country.
“It was requested that the vaccines need to be carefully authenticated before use…the information on genuine COVID-19 vaccine labels and additional information of the COVID19 vaccines in use is being enclosed for reference of program managers and service providers under the National COVID-19 Vaccination Program. The service providers and monitoring teams for COVID-19 vaccination may be informed about these details and to ensure due diligence towards recognition of counterfeit vaccines,” he wrote.
A genuine Covishield vial bottle will have the parameters like the SII product’s label shade in dark green, the brand name with the trademark mentioned on the original vaccine and dark green aluminium flip-off seal. The font of the generic name is un-bold, (Recombinant) is printed at the end of the generic name, overprinted with CGS NOT FOR SALE. The SII logo is printed on the adhesive side of the label and at a unique angle and position which can be identified by only a select few who are aware of the exact details. The lettering is printed in special white ink to be more clear and readable. According to the parameters, the entire label has been given a special texture honeycomb effect which is visible only at a specific angle.At strategic locations, the honeycomb design has been altered slightly and certain additional special elements added to the texture design such that it is not visible to the layman, but people who know the subtle changes can easily check and verify the authenticity of the label and vial.
The anti-counterfeit features in the Covaxin label include invisible UV helix (DNA-like structure) which is only visible under UV light, micro text hidden in label claim dots, which is written as COVAXIN, green foil effect in X of “Covaxin” and holographic effect on COVAXIN.
As for Sputnik, imported products are from two different bulk manufacturing sites from Russia and, hence, there are two different labels for both these sites. While all the information and design are the same, only the manufacturer name is different.
For all the imported products till now, the English label is only available on the front and back of the carton of 5 ampoule pack, while for all other sides, including the primary label on the ampoule, it is in Russian.