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WCO holds further webinars to improve Customs’ awareness of COVID-19 medicines

25 enero 2022

On 18 and 19 January 2022, the World Customs Organization (WCO) successfully held its 8th series of webinars aimed at improving Customs administrations’ awareness of counterfeit COVID-19-related goods, in collaboration with high-level representatives from the Pfizer biopharmaceutical company.

These series of webinars are among the measures taken to ensure thorough implementation by the Secretariat of the WCO Covid-19 Action Plan. The Action Plan was developed shortly after the adoption of the Resolution on the Role of Customs in Facilitating the Cross-Border Movement of Situationally Critical Medicines and Vaccines, as a temporary and overarching priority in the Implementation Plan 2021-2002 for the WCO Strategic Plan.

The latest webinars were designed to provide Customs with knowledge of the essential characteristics and specifications of the Paxlovid (Pfizer) antiviral medicine to be used as an emergency treatment for COVID-19. The knowledge gained will ensure that Customs administrations are better equipped to identify trafficking in genuine and counterfeit COVID-19 medicines.

This latest series of webinars, conducted in four languages, brought together some 370 Customs officials from 65 countries across the WCO’s six regions: Americas and the Caribbean; Asia/Pacific; Europe; East and Southern Africa; North of Africa, Near and Middle East; and West and Central Africa. The Spanish session, in particular, was attended by over 270 participants from the Americas and Caribbean region, and several questions and comments were put forward by participants.

The WCO Secretariat highlighted the fact that Customs constituted the first line of defence at Members' borders for seizing counterfeit goods and thus protecting citizens’ health and safety. Customs also helped facilitate the trade in genuine medicines and, to that end, cooperation with right holders was essential.

The huge interest shown by participants was noted and they asked a lot of questions during each of the webinars, while actively exchanging views with the presenters in order to gain an understanding of the new medicine presented by Pfizer.

In February 2022, the Secretariat will launch the 9th series of webinars on the Novavax Covid-19 vaccine.