At least 12 fake vaccination drives were held in or near the financial hub Mumbai, in the country’s western Maharashtra state, said Vishal Thakur, a senior official of the Mumbai police department.
“They were using saline water and injecting it,” Thakur said. “Every fake vaccination camp that they held, they were doing this.”
An estimated 2,500 people were given fake shots, he said. The organizers charged their victims fees for the shots, earning up to $28,000 in total.
“We have arrested doctors,” he added. “They were using a hospital which was producing the fake certificates, vials, syringes.”
So far, 14 people have been arrested on suspicion of cheating, attempts at culpable homicide, criminal conspiracy, and other charges. More arrests may come as police continue investigating other people involved in the scam, Thakur said.
In June, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a centralized vaccine drive, in which a significant proportion of doses would be provided by the central government to states for free. Soon after, the country administered a record 8 million shots in a day — a “gladdening” sign of the program’s acceleration, said Modi. So far, more than 62 million people — about 4.5% of the country’s population — have been fully vaccinated, according to data by Johns Hopkins University.