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Coronavirus vaccine storage locations kept secret to avoid thefts

The locations of long-term storage sites in particular will not be disclosed.

Health authorities in Finland aim to begin coronavirus vaccinations along with other EU countries on Sunday 27 December. Image: Victoria Jones / EPA

Information relating to the storage of the coronavirus vaccine in Finland will not be publicly disclosed, after international police organisation Interpol warned that vaccine shipments are likely to attract criminals seeking financial gain from the situation.

Interpol warned organised crime networks may try to sell fake Covid-19 vaccines or steal real supplies during the transportation and storage of the vaccines.

According to Toni Relander, Director of Pharmaceutical Wholesale at the National Institute for Health and Welfare of Finland (THL), the threat is real and the country has to prepare for it.

"It is unlikely a blue Pfizer lorry will be driving around Europe advertising it is carrying vaccines, though," he said.

In an email forwarded to Yle by vaccine manufacturer Pfizer's communications manager Jutta Joutseno, the company’s logistics experts state they are not aware of any cases of thefts of the vaccine. However, preparations have been made and this issue will also be taken into account when choosing transport solutions.

According to Pfizer logistics experts, the vaccines will be packed in shipping boxes fitted with GPS trackers as a precaution. For safety reasons, they refused to go into detail about how vaccines will be transported to Finland, and who will transport them.

THL is taking the matter very seriously, although the risk for vaccine thefts in Finland is estimated to be low.

"Information will not be disclosed to outside parties. Although the risk of theft is extremely small, the locations of long-term storage sites in particular will not be disclosed," THL’s Relander said.

On Wednesday, the health agency contradicted an earlier claim by the HUS Director of Diagnostic Services that the vaccine had arrived in Finland.

The first delivery of Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine will arrive in Finland during the Christmas holidays, according to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

Health authorities aim to begin coronavirus vaccinations along with other EU countries on Sunday 27 December.

"There are no plans to arrange a carnival or police convoy to escort the vaccines," Relander stated.