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Dark Web Marketplaces and COVID-19: The vaccines

by   Alberto Bracci, et al.

The ongoing COVID-19 vaccination campaign has so far targeted less than 3 the world population, and even in countries where the campaign has started many citizens will not receive their doses for many months. There is clear evidence that previous shortages of COVID-19 related goods (e.g., masks and COVID-19 tests) and services pushed customers, and vendors, towards illicit online trade occurring on dark web marketplaces. Is this happening also with vaccines? Here, we report on our effort to continuously monitor 102 dark web marketplaces. By February 26, we found 33 listings offering a COVID-19 vaccine, seven of which offering officially approved vaccines. The number of currently active listings is 11, including one listing selling the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, one listing the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, and 9 listings selling vaccines of unspecified type. Illicit trade of uncertified COVID-19 vaccines poses a concrete threat to public health and risks to undermine public confidence towards vaccination.


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