As the COVID-19 vaccination drive picked pace in the country, several reports of fake jabs being administered and unauthorised camps being organised came to the forefront. And even celebs were not spared as they fell prey to the vaccine scam. Actor and Trinamool Congress MP Mimi Chakraborty had got the first dose of the Covishield vaccine at a Kasba vaccination camp in Kolkata, among several others. However, she did not receive the customary SMS that is sent to people after they are administered a dose, and this aroused her suspicion.
In Mumbai, the police informed Bombay High Court on June 23 that over 2,000 people received fake COVID-19 vaccines at nine separately held private vaccination camps across the city. says media reports. The High Court expressed concern and asked the state government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to formulate a specific policy or guidelines to prevent such occurrences in future.
But what about the health repercussions? So far, there have been no reports of any side effects amongst the people who were administered these fake vaccines. However, Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni of the Bombay High Court asked the BMC to keep a tab on the health of citizens who were given fake jabs. The court has also told the BMC to find out what was there in the fake jabs, if it was saline water or anything else, if the people given the fake jabs have developed antibodies and to generally keep a check on these people's health.
Meanwhile in Kolkata, some of the "vaccines" seized from the office of the arrested fake IAS officer, Debanjan Deb - who had organised several camps to inoculate people - revealed that they are antibiotic injections used for a number of bacterial infections, a Kolkata Police official said on Thursday (June 24). "Debanjan Deb's office was raided this afternoon from where we have seized a large number of vials of Amikacin injections. We have also recovered fake labels of Covishield from there. Several documents and computers have been seized," an official told PTI.
As per some other media reports, a senior Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) official later revealed that the seized vials, which were administered to Mimi and others at the camp, are indeed fake and they don't have Covishield but "is dust and some liquid."
The KMC has started spotting people who have taken COVID vaccines from Deb's camps. "After identifying all of them, we will consult doctors after evaluating their (those who took the jab) health conditions," a senior KMC official said.
Doctors say what the exact side-effects of the fake vaccines will be is difficult to say as it depends on the constituents of the fake jab. Experts point out that if it contains harmful ingredients, the fake vaccine can lead to illness, which can even be fatal.
But even if the effects are not fatal, it might take time to realise that a jab administered is fake. In some cases, a fake jab causes symptoms like swelling in and around the injected area or fever, which are similar to the side-effects of real vaccination. And there are dangers associated with people not realising the fact that they were given fake jabs. One, it will give them a false sense of security that they have been vaccinated, which might lead them to drop their guard. Second, it can also raise the risk of someone with asymptomatic COVID spreading the virus.
Of course, malpractices like this can add to the already existing vaccine hesitancy in the country, which can have an adverse effect on the country's already stretched health infrastructure.