Authorities in India arrested 14 people in connection with a scheme that allegedly saw 2,000 people injected with fake COVID-19 vaccines containing salt water in Mumbai, the New York Times reported on Sunday.
A total of around $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.
Residents of the Kandivali neighborhood told India Today that they paid around $17 each to receive supposed doses of India’s Covidshield inoculation at a ‘vaccine camp’ in the area in May.
Suspicions were raised when no post-vaccine symptoms were reported by anyone who received the injections.
The High Court of Bombay has opened a case into the matter.
Public prosecutor Deepak Thakare submitted that “2,053 individuals have received fake vaccine shots,” and that police are attempting to track down the remaining offenders.
“It is really shocking that incidents of fake vaccination are on the rise,” the court said.
More than 400,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the country, which has been one of the worst-affected by the virus.
New infections have been falling since a peak of nearly 400,000 new cases per day in early May, more than anywhere else in the world at that time.
India has also given out more COVID-19 vaccine doses than any other nation – around 290 million. In comparison, the US, which is second on the list, has administered around 182 million doses.