Interpol, the international police organisation, is warning that pharma supply chains may become a prime target as criminals attempt to intercept shipments and steal Covid-related products, particularly vaccine and virus testing kits.

In a statement, Interpol secretary general Jürgen Stock, said: “As governments are preparing to roll out vaccines, criminal organizations are planning to infiltrate or disrupt supply chains.”

The Transported Asset Protection Association (TAPA) reinforced the warning this week. It said: “It is critical for pharma supply chains to secure storage, transportation and delivery of cargo shipments to not only safeguard against theft, but to also avoid contamination of these highly-sensitive, temperature-controlled cargoes.

“Supply chains are required to store doses of the vaccine at extremely low temperatures (-70°) to protect their effectiveness. If criminal attacks do occur, this strictly regulated environment may be disrupted and vaccines contaminated, even if the offenders fail to remove any of the product.

“This could result in the need to destroy ‘spoilt’ vaccines, not only slowing the distribution process to patients but also adding significant additional logistics costs and, no doubt, penalties served by regulatory bodies.

Lina Li, chairwoman of TAPA Asia Pacific, added: “TAPA Security Standards cover the security aspects for warehousing, trucking and parking to safeguard cargo as it moves along the entire supply chain.

“Pharma members and their LSPs which have yet to adopt TAPA Standards should now be looking to upgrade their security levels by implementing additional security programs to protect their cargo deliveries, including stricter checking procedures, increased surveillance and tracking, and staff training.”

TAPA works with law enforcement agencies to share cargo crime data through its Incident Information Service (IIS).

It is calling on hauliers with security incident intelligence relating to the vaccine distribution to share this information with TAPA to help it alert all members.