WCO holds a further series of webinars to improve Customs’ awareness of COVID-19 vaccines

04 marzo 2022

On 15 February 2022, the World Customs Organization (WCO) successfully held its 9th series of webinars aimed at improving Customs administrations’ awareness of counterfeit COVID-19-related goods, in collaboration with high-level representatives from Novavax.

These 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 Nuvaxovid COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. In December 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued an emergency use listing (EUL) for Nuvaxovid, following its assessment and approval by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

The knowledge gained during these webinars will ensure that Customs administrations are better equipped to identify trafficking in genuine and counterfeit COVID-19 vaccines.

This latest series of webinars, conducted in English with French and Spanish translation, brought together some 357 Customs officials from 71 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 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 vaccines 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 vaccine presented by Novavax.

The WCO Secretariat continues to work closely with the WHO, pharmaceutical companies producing COVID-19 vaccines and a wide range of stakeholders to ensure that counterfeit vaccines are not in circulation around the world.