More than 10 million imported counterfeit face masks were seized in 80 separate incidents by U.S. Customs and Border Protection between the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and June 30.
The agency also seized more than 120,000 illegal COVID-19 test kits in 339 separate incidents, 3,000 Environmental Protection Agency-prohibited antivirus lanyards, 24,000 Food and Drug Administration-prohibited chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine tablets, and 4,000 tablets of bogus or unsafe antibiotics, such as azithromycin.
Thomas Overacker, executive director of CBP’s Cargo and Conveyance Security division, outlined the list and government actions in his testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance on Tuesday.
“With imports of medical supplies and PPE growing dramatically to meet the U.S. demand, so too did attempts to circumvent the nation’s trade and customs laws. CBP has seen an increasing number of potentially dangerous counterfeit or unauthorized COVID-related products,” he said.
According to Overacker, strategies to protect the integrity of the country’s medical supply chain require paying increased attention to international mail, including e-commerce packages. They also involve triaging importer requests, working with ports of entry to ensure legitimate shipments aren’t held up unnecessarily, identifying high-risk shipments before they even get to the U.S., and creating a website for information about COVID-19 product admissibility and importing.
“CBP continues to carry out its mission of facilitating and safeguarding the global supply chain and has increased its focus on the critical medical supply chain and products needed for the nation’s response,” he testified.