COVID-19 related medicines on dark markets

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a series of medicines has been associated with recoveries from COVID-19. Are these medicines available on dark markets (DWMs)?

We analyzed more than 400k online illicit listings in 23 DWMs and found evidence of 132 listings of medicines. We focused our attention on chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin (often prescribed alongside the latter). We monitored public attention - through the number of tweets containing chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, or azithromycin, and the Wikipedia visits to the relative English page - and the number of observed listings in DWMs. As shown in the Figure above, when USA’s President Trump sponsored chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine, public attention raised, and so did the number of relative listings in DWMs. In May, the number of these listings steadily decreased in correspondence to the end of the “first wave” of contagion in many European countries.

COVID-19 did promote the emergence of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine listings in DWMs. DWMs are embedded in our society and behave organically to social changes. What will happen when a cure/vaccine is found but initial delays in the production will cause delays?

Click here if you would like to know whether also Personal Protective Equipment are available on dark markets.

How to cite:

Want to cite and/or use the information provided in this page? It is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - please cite our ongoing monitoring effort as follows:

A. Bracci, M. Nadini, M. Aliapoulios, D. McCoy, I. Gray, A. Teytelboym, A. Gallo, A. Baronchelli. Dark Web Marketplaces and COVID-19: before the vaccine. EPJ Data Science 10.1 (2021): 1-26

Tue Nov 03 2020




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The research presented in the website is supported by the "COVID-19: Monitoring the effects of the pandemic on illicit online trade" project funded by the ESRC. Content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) unless otherwise specified in single posts.