02 August, 2021

Is Your Shot Real Or Plain Water?

India is yet to adopt protocols for securing potential coronavirus vaccines from counterfeiters

Is Your Shot Real Or Plain Water?

In September this year, even as scientists in India and elsewhere were busy with clinical trials on an effective inoculation against the novel coronavirus, a drug inspector in Odisha seized a large cache of vials labelled as COVID-19 vaccines, from a village 350 km from state capital Bhubaneswar. The seized drug was found to be spurious, perhaps containing nothing more than tap water. “He is a village guy who created the fake drug on his own and named it COVID-19 vaccine. We got a tip-off from our informers, raided the place and seized everything,” drug inspector Sasmita Dehury told Outlook over the phone.

It was a lucky break in a country where manufacturing of spurious medicines is a multi-billion dollar business that puts the lives of millions of people at risk every year. The risk, experts say, has risen manifold with the imminent arrival of a vaccine against the coronavirus, with panic-stricken people eager to get the shot at any cost.

Though government-sponsored studies, conducted thrice in the past 15 years, indicate that only three per...

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