Authorities in India arrested 14 people in connection with a scheme that allegedly saw 2,053 people injected with fake COVID-19 vaccines containing saltwater in Mumbai, the New York Times reported on Sunday.
A total of approximately $20,000 was confiscated from the arrested suspects, some of whom are medical professionals. At least one suspect is still at large, according to the authorities.
“Those arrested are charged under criminal conspiracy, cheating, and forgery,” said Vishal Thakur, a police officer in Mumbai.
More than 2,600 people came to the camps to receive shots of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, manufactured and marketed in India as Covishield. Some said that they became suspicious when their shots did not show up in the Indian government’s online portal tracking vaccinations, and when the hospitals that the organizers had claimed to be affiliated with did not match the names on the vaccination certificates they received.
India has administered more than 340 million vaccine doses, but less than 5 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, according to the data. The country is reporting nearly 50,000 new cases daily and nearly 1,000 Covid deaths, numbers that are far lower than two months ago, although experts have always believed India’s official tallies to be vastly undercounted.