Successful first series of WCO webinars on increasing awareness about COVID-19 vaccines

03 February 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose a tremendous risk to the health and safety of citizens around the world and seriously jeopardizes future economic prospects on an international scale.

Through a Resolution adopted at its 137th Session in December 2020, the World Customs Organization (WCO) Council has invited the WCO Secretariat and Members to take action aimed at protecting the health and safety of citizens during the global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

On this basis, the WCO Secretariat has launched its first series of webinars on increasing awareness about COVID-19 vaccine distribution, which ran from 21 to 28 January 2021. Over that period, seven webinars were organized and delivered across the six WCO regions, bringing together more than 750 participants.

In his opening remarks on the first day of the webinars, Mr. Stefan Kirsch, Deputy Director for Compliance and Enforcement in the WCO, underlined the fact that due to the complexity of detecting counterfeit goods at borders, information provided by pharmaceutical companies is of great importance for maintaining a good balance between border enforcement and trade facilitation during this critical time.

This series of webinars was designed to share knowledge with Customs administrations about the essential characteristics and specifications of COVID-19 vaccines. This knowledge will make Customs better equipped to identify and curb trafficking in counterfeit COVID-19 vaccines. This first series will be followed by additional WCO webinars in the near future, with active participation by the pharmaceutical companies producing COVID-19 vaccines.