As India intensifies its vaccination effort amid fears of one other wave of the coronavirus, officers are investigating allegations that maybe hundreds of individuals had been injected with faux vaccines within the monetary capital, Mumbai.

The police have arrested 14 folks on suspicion of involvement in a scheme that administered injections of salt water as a substitute of vaccine doses at practically a dozen personal vaccination websites in Mumbai over the previous two months. The organizers, together with medical professionals, allegedly charged between $10 and $17 per dose, in keeping with the authorities, who mentioned they’d confiscated greater than $20,000 from the suspects.

“These arrested are charged underneath felony conspiracy, dishonest and forgery,” mentioned Vishal Thakur, a police officer in Mumbai.

Greater than 2,600 folks got here to the camps to obtain photographs of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, manufactured and marketed in India as Covishield. Some mentioned that they grew to become suspicious when their photographs didn’t present up within the Indian authorities’s on-line portal monitoring vaccinations, and when the hospitals that the organizers had claimed to be affiliated with didn’t match the names on the vaccination certificates they obtained.

“There are doubts about whether or not we had been really given Covishield or was it simply glucose or expired/waste vaccines,” Neha Alshi, who mentioned she was a sufferer of the rip-off, wrote on Twitter.

Siddharth Chandrashekhar, a lawyer who has filed a public curiosity lawsuit in Mumbai’s excessive court docket, described the state of affairs as “heartbreaking.” The court said it was “actually stunning that incidents of pretend vaccination are on the rise.”

Medical scams are nothing new in India, the place, throughout the nation’s mammoth outbreak this spring, profiteers focused weak Covid sufferers with fake drugs and oxygen. The police in West Bengal state are additionally investigating whether or not a whole bunch of individuals, together with a neighborhood lawmaker, obtained faux vaccines there.

India has administered greater than 340 million vaccine doses, however lower than 5 p.c of the inhabitants is totally vaccinated, in keeping with the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford. The nation is reporting practically 50,000 new instances each day and practically 1,000 Covid deaths, numbers which are far decrease than two months in the past, though specialists have all the time believed India’s official tallies to be vastly undercounted.

On Saturday, the pharmaceutical firm Bharat Biotech reported that its Covaxin shot — the opposite vaccine in huge use in India — was 77.8 p.c efficient in stopping symptomatic sickness, in keeping with the outcomes of a late-stage trial. These outcomes were published online however haven’t been peer-reviewed.

The report mentioned that the vaccine prevented extreme Covid in 93.4 p.c of instances and was additionally efficient towards the Delta variant, stopping an infection in 65.2 p.c of instances.

There have been lingering doubts in regards to the vaccine, which was permitted by the Indian authorities in January and administered to hundreds of thousands before it had been publicly proved to be safe or effective.