New Delhi: Even as the COVID-19 vaccination drive is set to begin in the country on January 16, reports of fake vaccines and scams have already surfaced.
Despite repeated reminders that the COVID-19 vaccine distribution is only through the government machinery, some people have fallen prey to such scams and lost money, reveal reports from across the country.
Only around 3 crore people, including the health workers, police, and sanitation workers who are in the frontline of fight against COVID-19, would be vaccinated in the first phase. There are procedures in place to identify the beneficiaries of the vaccination drive. Even the Interpol had issued an Orange notice last month, warning people to be cautious against vaccine scams.
Fake phone calls
A case was registered in Bhopal recently after a person received a fake phone call, claiming to be from the Union Health Ministry. Fraudsters gave instructions to pay a fee of Rs 500 to get the vaccine, download a certain application on the mobile phone or tell them the OTP received on the phone. But if these instructions are followed, the person would lose the money in the bank account.
The CoWIN (COVID-19 Vaccine Intelligence Network) platform was launched for vaccine distribution in the country. However, this is not accessible to the ordinary citizens currently. Only officials, who are part of operations of COVID vaccine distribution, can access it. However, mobile applications, with similar names, are available on app stores. Even apps that can hack personal details are part of this.
Sale of spurious COVID vaccine has already been reported. The fraudsters reportedly circulated a message, offering the vaccine, along with a phone number on social media platforms.
India's vaccination drive against COVID-19 would be the largest in the world. The University of Oxford's Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin vaccines have been cleared for emergency use in the country.