Covid-19 vaccine scam in Mumbai: Victims given partial doses from leftover and expired shots

25 June,2021 07:07 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Samiullah Khan

That’s what the police suspect, as they file more cases in a scam whose scope is widening; vials may have been shared and reused

Shivraj Pataria and his wife Nita Pataria run Shivam Hospital

The founder of Charkop-based Shivam Hospital and his wife were arrested by the Kandivli police on Thursday for allegedly supplying fake vaccines to the Kandivli-based Hiranandani Heritage society and other places. Preliminary investigations suggest that Shivam Hospital saved old Covishield vaccines and empty vials and did not return them to BMC after the government stopped giving doses to private hospitals on April 30. These were used to give vaccines in recent drives. Police are probing to find out how exactly that was done.

Shivam Hospital in Charkop, Kandivli West

Kandivli police suspect that Shivam Hospital used these expired vaccines in the vaccination scam at various places. The Bangur Nagar police on Thursday registered the sixth FIR in connection with the fake vaccine scam.

Shivam Hospital's doctor founder, Shivraj Patariya, 62, and his wife Nita Pataria, run the hospital together. The police said that Shivam Hospital was running the vaccination centre from March 14 to April 30 and vaccinated more than 15,000 people.

Police sources said that Shivam Hospital also did not give the prescribed quantity of vaccines to people and saved some from each vial. The saved doses were allegedly used in the scam. Police are also probing what exactly was done with the empty vials - whether they were filled with leftover, expired vaccines or with a fake liquid.

Fake camp at bank

A police officer from Bangur Nagar police station said, "We received a complaint from Bank of Baroda's Evershine Nagar branch about the same arrested accused who vaccinated 40 employees on April 23 and May 25. The bank paid Rs 35,000 to Mahendra Singh who used to arrange the camps. The employees did not get vaccine certificates."

40 employees of Evershine Nagar's Bank of Branch got shots in a fake vaccination camp organised by Shivam Hospital

The Bangur Nagar police registered a case against six people - Mahendra Singh, Dr Manish Tripathi, Karim Ali, Sanjay Gupta and two unknown people. Police sources said that Dr Tripathi was also present during the vaccination camp at Bank of Baroda.

Sources from Kandivli police said, "The scam started from Shivam Hospital in Charkop, Kandivli West. It was running a vaccination centre since March 14 this year. However, on April 30, the state government stopped providing vaccines to private hospitals. We suspect that Shivam hospital did not use 100 per cent of the vaccine in each vial. Every vial has 10 ml of the vaccine, meant to vaccinate 10 people. However, Shivam Hospital did not give the full 1 ml to beneficiaries. The hospital most likely stored the remaining vaccine and used it at various camps."

Sources added, "We also suspect that Shivam Hospital did not return empty vials to the civic body. The vaccines given to the residents of Hiranandani Heritage society at Kandivli, Aaditya college at Borivli, production houses TIPs films at Versova and Matchbox at Khar, and Bank of Baroda's Evershine Nagar, were probably expired."

The vaccine, once opened, is to be used within four hours, after which, it loses its effect.

Cases at Borivli, Dadar

On Thursday, the Borivli police also registered an FIR, the seventh one in the scam, on the complaint from a Borivli-based share broker about a fake vaccination camp at Shimpoli, Borivli West where 514 people were vaccinated. The share broker paid R6.47 lakh to Mahendra for the camp. All five FIRs are registered under Sections 268 (public nuisance), 270 (doing any act known to spread infection or disease dangerous to life), 274 (adulteration of drugs), 275 (sale of adulterated drugs), 419 (impersonation), 420 (cheating), 465 (forgery), 470 (forging document) and others of the Indian Penal Code and relevant sections of the IT Act.