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Covid-19 cases: India hits 400,000 deaths, Mumbai hospital’s vaccine scam unearthed

Police in one of the worst-hit virus hotspots have uncovered a disturbing hospital scam involving Covid-19 vaccines.

A hospital in India has had its doors shut and its license revoked after officials uncovered an elaborate vaccine scam in its capital.

India has upped its efforts to vaccinate its 1.39 billion-strong population after a devastating second wave ripped through the subcontinent in early 2021, bringing its total death toll to over 400,000 this week.

Vaccine drives facilitated by Mumbai hospitals have been used effectively, but the lack of regulation amid the chaos has encouraged corruption, even from licensed health officials.

The complex vaccine scam utilized loopholes in India’s vaccination system, refilling empty vials formerly filled with legitimate vaccine doses.

The hospital was authorized to administer vaccines until April 28 but conducted nine bogus vaccines that drove from May 25 to June 6 when it had no authority to hold vaccination events.

According to Mumbai police, approximately 2,060 people were given false vaccine doses across nine drives connected to Shivam Hospital between May 25 and June 6.

Police said couple Shivraj and Neeta Patria, who ran the Shivam hospital, were arrested as prime suspects on June 24, alongside Shivam dentist Manish Tripathi.

Officials revealed the trio held a secret meeting in a hotel to plan their next move, allegedly aiming to produce an additional 100,000 doses of fake vaccines to administer.

Additional Commissioner of Police Dilip Sawant said the scam only came to light because victims did not receive official vaccination certificates, leading to officials reporting the dodgy practice.

“They would have then issued vaccination certificates from the batches of procured jabs to those vaccinated in the nine drives. Hence, they kept delaying issuing certificates,” an officer told Indian Express.

“They had kept a diary with the names of those who did not receive certificates. The gang felt the government would be unable to verify all details, and they will get away.”

Joint Commissioner of Police Vishwas Nangre Patil said they also arrested Rahul Dubey, an admin official at Shivam Hospital. Mr. Dubey confessed to filling vaccine vials with saline water, outing his accomplices, who were also in custody.

“We have good evidence against the accused. Many accused have also confessed that they used saline water. In all nine drives, only one syndicate and Shivam Hospital are involved,” Commissioner Patil said. “We have arrested all the big fish. We will arrest more people if they are involved in the racket.”

The worrying development prompted a push for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to require hospitals to destroy vials after administering legitimate vaccine doses, eliminating any possibility of similar fake vaccine scams sprouting up in the Covid-19 hotspot. “We have permanently revoked the hospital’s license due to the violations and cheating allegations. The accused couple used the hospital premises for illegal activity,” BMC Assistant Commissioner Sanjay Kurhade said.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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