Fake Vaccine Site Found To Have Injected Thousands With Salt Water
Thousands of people in India have been injected with fake coronavirus vaccines, with several doctors and medical officials reportedly in on the scam.
Police have arrested 14 people in connection with the bust, and said that at least 2,000 Indians had fallen victim to the fake vaccination drives, which took place at 12 different locations in Mumbai between late May and early June.
The scammers reportedly charged people for priority access to the vaccines, only to inject them with a salt water solution. Mumbai Police estimate that the scam netted around $28,000 (USD) before suspicions were raised over the validity of the vaccine certificates being handed out at the fake drives.
Per CNN, Vishal Thakur, a senior official of the Mumbai Police Department, said:
They were using saline water and injecting it, every fake vaccination camp that they held, they were doing this.
We have arrested doctors. They were using a hospital which was producing the fake certificates, vials, syringes.
According to another senior police officer, Dilip Sawant, one of the vaccination drives was set up by a local residents association who contacted someone at a ‘reputed hospital’ to arrange the drive, but was passed on to a mediator who passed them to the scammers. Members of the association were charged around $17 each to receive the fake vaccine.
After learning they’d fallen victim to a scam, members of the resident’s association expressed concern over having been injected with an unapproved substance. ‘We really want to know what has been injected in our bodies,’ one person told News18. ‘Six members in my family have taken a shot. What if something happens to all of us? Who is responsible?’
No deaths have been reported as a result of the fake vaccines, but several of those involved have been charged with attempts at culpable homicide, alongside charges of cheating and criminal conspiracy.
In a written response to a lawsuit filed by public prosecutors in Mumbai over the fake vaccine scam, Bombay High Court Chief Justice Kulkarni called it ‘really shocking’ and called on local authorities to ‘ensure that there is no recurrence of similar such fake vaccination camps…so that innocent individuals are not duped in future’.
Under India’s vaccination program, 75% of vaccine doses are bought by the Indian government and distributed for free, with 25% purchased and sold to patients by private hospitals. According to The Independent, the country recently administered a record 8 million jabs in a single day, however fewer than 5% of the population are fully vaccinated.
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