Thousands of Indians injected with water in fake Covid vaccine scam

New Delhi, Jul 6 (EFE).- Thousands of people were given saline water instead of anti-Covid vaccines at fake vaccination centers in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, authorities reported on Tuesday.

Around 2,500 people “were given normal saline water instead of Covishield (AstraZeneca’s anti-Covid vaccine developed in India)” in several places in the state capital Mumbai during May and June, Deputy Police Commissioner Vishal Thakur told EFE.

So far, 14 people have been arrested over the scam, including doctors and other professionals who “somehow belong to the medical field,” Thakur said.

Similar fake vaccination scams have been reported in other parts of the country over the last two months, after the Indian government authorized the vaccination of the entire adult population.

Although anti-Covid vaccination is currently available for free at government centers in India, the government had allowed people below the age of 45 to be charged for the cost of the vaccine at private centers.

So-called vaccination camps organized by “unauthorized persons” were also detected in the city of Kolkata, capital of the West Bengal province, according to a letter by India’s Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan to the state government, in which he demanded a probe.

The police had received complaints of at least two vaccination centers being run without authorization in the city, where recipients were allegedly being given antibiotics instead of anti-Covid vaccines.

On Monday, thousands of people protested in Kolkata, blaming the local government for the fraud.

Since the beginning of India’s ambitious vaccination campaign on Jan. 16, authorities have administered around 357 million vaccine doses and nearly 66.3 million people have been fully vaccinated with both doses of the antidotes.

Although the inoculation rate has increased in recent weeks with nearly 4.5 million doses administered in the last 24 hours, the government has failed to achieve its initial target of vaccinating 300 million people by July.

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