Greater Noida illegal vaccination drive: Health department questions 8 workers

Officials said they are trying to track the vials recovered in Greater Noida using batch numbers of vaccine stock received in Ghaziabad
Sushil Kumar (left) and Ravi Kumar were arrested on Sunday for illegally administrating vaccines in Greater Noida. (Sourced)
Sushil Kumar (left) and Ravi Kumar were arrested on Sunday for illegally administrating vaccines in Greater Noida. (Sourced)
Updated on Sep 30, 2021 11:39 PM IST
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By Peeyush Khandelwal and Shafaque Alam

The Ghaziabad health department has initiated an inquiry into allegations of illegal administration of Covid-19 vaccine in Greater Noida.

Two persons from Ghaziabad were arrested on Sunday for setting up an unauthorised vaccination camp Kheda Chauganpur village in Greater Noida.

The health department, in a bid to find how the duo got the vaccine, has asked for a written explanation from eight healthcare staff in the district, including two doctors.

On Sunday, Sushil Kumar, 30, a resident of Surajpur who works as a ward boy on contract with the urban primary health centre (PHC) in Budh Vihar, Ghaziabad, and Ravi Kumar, 35, a resident of Bulandshahr and the brother-in-law of one Renu Sharma, an auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM) at the Budh Vihar PHC, were arrested for illegally administering Covid vaccine to several people for money in Greater Noida. The police team and the health department recovered 19 vials (four used) of Covishield and Covaxin besides 155 syringes (30 used) from their possession.

During questioning by the Sector Ecotech 3 police in Greater Noida, Sushil Kumar told the police that Sharma had given him the vials and syringes.

“Following the two arrests in Greater Noida, an inquiry has been set up, and eight persons, including two doctors, have been asked for written explanations. The entire exercise is being done to find who gave away the vaccine vials and who else was involved,” said Dr Rakesh Gupta, district surveillance officer, Ghaziabad health department.

He said Sharma has been on the run since the two men were arrested.

The eight persons who received the notices are members of staff at the Budh Vihar PHC and its cold vaccine chain supply point in Vijay Nagar, officials said.

Officials of the health department also said that they are also trying to track the vials recovered in Greater Noida using batch numbers of vaccine stock received in Ghaziabad.

“The batch number is the only identification through which vaccine vials can be traced. The stock is supplied from the divisional vaccine store at Meerut and later stored at the district vaccine store at MMG Hospital in Ghaziabad. From there, it is issued to 29 cold chain points across the district, and they, in turn, supply them to the Covid vaccination centres on the day of vaccination drive,” Dr Gupta added.

Officials of the health department said that as of now they have found no discrepancies in the stock at the urban PHC or its associated cold chain point in Vijay Nagar.

Officials suspect that the perpetrators were probably moving the vaccine from Ghaziabad to Greater Noida for a legitimate vaccination drive, and decided to illegally administer it themselves by charging 250 per dose.

“It is a probability. Further, the names and details of the beneficiaries would be added to the official records the next day to ensure there is no discrepancy in the record of used and unused vials. However, the police investigation will reveal how the entire illegal drive was planned,” said an officer from the Ghaziabad health department who wished not to be identified.

Dr Sachindra Kumar Mishra, in-charge of the community health centre (CHC) at Bisrakh, had filed a complaint regarding the unauthorised drive with the Greater Noida Police.

He said that on September 26 (Sunday) someone asked him if there was a vaccination drive in Kheda Chauganpur village in Greater Noida.

“On Sundays, there is no vaccination drive in the area. We were surprised to hear this. We, along with a police team, then conducted a raid, and the police arrested two persons - Sushil Kumar and Ravi Kumar. Sushil Kumar revealed that he got the vaccine vials from Sharma, an ANM in Ghaziabad,” he added.

The Greater Noida Police said that suspects vaccinated 20 people on Sunday, and 25 people during a similar vaccination exercise on September 19.

Dr Bhavtosh Shankhdhar, the chief medical officer of Ghaziabad, said that he has terminated the services of Sushil Kumar.

“Apart from termination of services, I am awaiting recommendations from the inquiry committee, which is likely to submit its report by Friday. Based on the recommendations, we will take up suitable action,” he added.

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Thursday, October 21, 2021