Ashok Kumar Singh,Dularchand Shah and Tripti Roy, all three have one thing in common, they were administered the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccination months after their death. Their family members across Bihar were surprised when they received a text message recently on their mobile phones informing them of successfully administering the second dose of the vaccine even though they died months ago. It has raised many eyebrows among health experts, social activists and the general public.
The state government had officially announced earlier this month that it has vaccinated 6 crore people in the state and completed its ambitious target more than two months before time. This claim has drawn suspicion over whether those vaccinated after death, including Singh,Shah and Roy, are considered.
However, Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey, who has not spoken about the reported COVID-19 vaccination of dead people in the state, said that the government will administer more than 8 crore COVID-19 doses by the year end.
Ironically, nearly forty days after questions were raised over the claim of Bihar administering 33,09,685 COVID-19 vaccine doses in a single day on September 17 ,the government has not come out with any clarification.
According to a health expert, they are only three of the hundreds of dead people who were administered the second dose of the vaccine thanks to officials and private health agency employees' nexus to fulfil the vaccination target. Most of such cases are not reported.
Ashok Kumar Singh, a resident of Karigaon village and an advocate in the sub-divisional court in Kaimur district, died of suspected COVID-19 symptoms on April 4. He was administered the first dose of the vaccine on April 2.
A member of Singh's family said" More than six months after he died, I received a message on mobile on October 11 that he was successfully administered the second dose of the vaccine, initially I thought it was due to some mistake or error".
He also said that they had downloaded his vaccination certificate that clearly mentioned that he had successfully administered the second dose at the sub-divisional hospital in Mohania." We had verified it after receiving the message, that in the official record he was vaccinated in October,how is it possible that a dead person is vaccinated". He added
Rishikesh Kumar Jayswal, in charge, district programme manager, district health society, told Newsclick that a probe into the matter is underway." We are looking into the serious issue of negligence or mistake as to how a dead man was administered a second jab."
In another similar case, Dularchand Shah, a resident of Bansohi village in Siwan district , died in April after he developed breathlessness. His family received a message on mobile on October 23 that he was successfully administered the second dose of the vaccine." He was administered the first dose of COVID-19 vaccination days before he died. We were shocked when we received a text message, how he was vaccinated six months after his death. We had also downloaded a vaccination certificate from the government official website that mentioned both his doses were completed" Shah's nephew said.
In Purnia district, a woman Tripti Roy, who died in August, got vaccinated with the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccination on September 17. " We received a message on mobile phone that she was successfully administered the second dose of the vaccine,it surprised us. Her COVID-19 vaccination was completed on paper." a close relative of her said.
Besides,it was reported that several people from Purnia, who were outside Bihar on September 17 had received a message on their mobile phones that they were successfully administered the second dose of the vaccine. Take for example, the cases of Sulochna Jha and Brajesh Kumar Yadav, both of them were not administered the second dose of the vaccine. Still, they received a message on their phones that they had successfully administered the second dose of the vaccine on September 17.
It appears that the cases of Sulochna Jha and Brajesh Kumar Yadav are linked to last month's manipulated record of COVID-19 jabs administered in a single day. The state's health department had tweeted that Bihar administered a record number of COVID-19 vaccine doses in the country in a single day in its "Maha-Tika-Abhiyan" on September 17, the Prime Minister's birthday, when he turned 71.
Health activists said "Is it not a fact that vaccine drives on September 15 and 16 were offline? No data entry was made on the CoWIN portal of vaccines administered on those two days. This is a clear case of a much-hyped COVID-19 vaccination drive by manipulating data, misusing resources and beating drums loudly. The whole exercise was to keep someone special happy," they said.
In June, the state had launched a new vaccination drive with a target of vaccinating six crore people in the next six months. Until recently, many districts have been reporting vaccine shortages.
Even at that time, the administration had claimed to have vaccinated a record number of people, with more than seven lakh people (7,29,332) vaccinated in the state on June 21. But soon after, the vaccination rate had slowed down.
This is not all. Fake vaccination certificates were being issued in Patna for Rs 800 to 1000." I knew several people who got fake vaccination certificates by paying money to people involved in the racket of the health sector. It was rampant since last month as people going abroad and outside Bihar needed it. But they have risked their own lives," a Patna based social worker who asked to remain anonymous said.
Last month, the Patna police had busted a racket allegedly involved in issuing fake COVID-19 test reports. They had detained four people following a complaint by the Airports Authority of India (AAI). As per the report, the private diagnostic labs provided fake RT-PCR test reports to airline passengers showing they were Covid-negative for Rs -1500 to 2500.