Professional thieves have long looted valuable medicines. Now, drugmakers and their partners are aiming to protect COVID-19 vaccines from theft.
Pharma companies are using fake shipments and GPS software to plot bogus shipments to throw off thieves. Meanwhile, glassmakers like Corning are incorporating black-light verification to battle counterfeiting, according to The Wall Street Journal. Hospitals are also stepping up security measures before the first vaccines arrive.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is also planning to deploy U.S. marshals to safeguard vaccine shipments.
Despite these measures, securing vaccines could be tricky. Truck stops, distribution centers, hospitals and airports with subpar physical security measures could be vulnerable. The logistics firm DHL has estimated that 15,000 cargo flights are needed to ensure sufficient vaccines worldwide.
The U.S. Justice Department has also accused cybercriminals attempting to steal coronavirus vaccine data.
Authorities from hospitals and states told The Wall Street Journal they are more focused on ensuring the public has access to vaccines that are properly stored than potential theft.
Regulatory authorities in the U.S. could clear COVID-19 vaccines as soon as November or December. Vaccine supplies, however, are likely to be limited until 2021.
That scarcity could lead to heightened risk. “You are going to have people that will want to have access to the vaccine earlier,” Juan Andres, chief of technical operations at Moderna, told WSJ. “I do think that the vaccine needs to be protected.”