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Karachi health officials have been selling Pfizer vaccine illegally

Prime suspect was arrested on July 25

SAMAA | - Posted: Jul 29, 2021 | Last Updated: 3 months ago
Posted: Jul 29, 2021 | Last Updated: 3 months ago

Investigation into the illegal sale of Pfizer vaccine in Karachi has shown the involvement of East Zone District Health Office officials and staffers, the police said Thursday.

On July 25, the Preedy police under the supervision of Sindh Coronavirus Focal Person Dr Sohail Raza Sher conducted a raid on Khalid Bin Waleed Road and arrested a suspect, identified as Muhammad Ali, for selling Pfizer vaccine doses illegally.

The suspect told the police that he worked at a private firm, Sultan Madad Company, and was provided with the coronavirus vaccine by his employer Major (retd) Amanullah Sultan.

The police then arrested Sultan who told them that the vaccine was provided to him by East Zone DHO staffer Muhammad Zeeshan, who was then arrested. 

Zeeshan said that he was appointed as a nurse on a contract basis in 2020. Last year, the Sindh Health Department ordered the appointment of paramedical staffers on a contractual basis keeping in view the rising number of coronavirus patients in the province.

He told the police that he came in contact with Sultan after the former visited the East Zone DHO to meet Dr Faisal. Sultan told him to tell him once the Pfizer vaccine consignment arrives at the health office.

The vaccine had arrived in East DHO this month. Dow University of Health Science’s campus near Mosmiat Chowrangi and Gerry International were selected as vaccination centres for Pfizer.

East Zone DHO appointed a man, identified as Samad, as Town Supervisor Vaccination. According to the suspect, TSV Samad told him that Pfizer vaccines have arrived and if anyone wanted it then they should inform him.

The suspect then informed Sultan and he ended up placing an order for it.

Illegal business

Zeeshan said that Samad sold him one dose for Rs7,500, while Sultan purchased it for Rs10,000 (per dose) from him. Zeeshan kept Rs2,500 and paid the rest to TSV Samad.

Sultan then started administering them to people illegally and charged people Rs15,000 for one dose. He had bought a total of 59 doses from Zeeshan and paid him Rs590,000, out of which Zeeshan kept  Rs147,500. The suspect said that he gave Rs442,500 to TSV Samad.

Zeeshan claimed that Samad told him about his ‘side business’, adding that the money is equally distributed among all staffers of East DHO.

The suspect also revealed that the people involved in administering vaccines illegally were also updating NADRA records of the people who were getting them.

Tahira Bano, who serves as the East Zone DHO district supervisor vaccination, has the power of issuing IDs and passwords to vaccination centres, Zeeshan told the police.

He said that Bano had issued four IDs to Gerrys International and one of the accounts belongs to a man identified as Usman, who was maintaining a record of the illegal vaccination carried out by SMC and updating the Sindh government’s records. As a result, people who got the vaccine illegally their NADRA record would show that they have been administered this vaccine.

Procuring vaccines

The officials involved in the illegal sale of the vaccine have been showing the ‘missing’ doses as waste.

For instance, a single vial of Pfizer vaccine contains six doses, and once a vial has been opened then all doses should be administered within four to five hours.

If all doses are not administered within the set deadline, then the remaining doses are declared as ‘waste’. The suspects in the data showed the vaccine doses they had sold off as waste.

Pfizer vaccines

Zeeshan also shared that people who procured the Pfizer vaccine illegally were expatriates working in the Gulf states.

Tens of thousands of Pakistanis are working in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has only approved AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson vaccines for entry. The country said that anyone arriving without these vaccines will be required to quarantine at their own cost, which many Pakistanis can’t afford.

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