Seven vials out of 44 were unaccounted for
The name of a medical doctor has now surfaced in a vaccine theft case in Maharashtra’s Akola district.
Vaccinator Deepak Sontakke was arrested on Friday, February 19, 2021, for allegedly stealing seven vials of the UK-developed Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
Now, Sontakke has named a medical doctor in a twist to the case.
He says the doctor illegally took four doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine (called Covishield by locals) for his family members.
These four doses were separate from the 70 other doses in the seven missing vials.
Although the doctor has denied the allegation against him, his involvement in the theft is yet to be ruled out.
He is now undergoing questioning by police.
On Friday, February 12, 2021, staff nurses noticed that multiple vials of the Covishield vaccine had gone missing from Chatari rural hospital.
Seven vials out of 44 were unaccounted for, indicating the theft took place the previous day.
A missing complaint was registered by hospital officials on Tuesday, February 16, 2021, after preliminary enquiries.
Twenty-five-year-old Deepak Sontakke had stayed for a couple of hours after his duty ended at 5pm on Thursday, February 11, 2021, the day the vials seemed to have gone missing.
As a result, an offence was registered after hospital authorities lodged a complaint of theft against Sontakke.
A source said:
“The health committee had fixed the responsibility on Sontakke for the missing vials as his conduct was questionable.”
The vaccinator was arrested in the Akola district on Friday, February 19, 2021. He has spent two days in police custody denying his involvement.
Sontakke was placed in judicial custody after the police’s request for further remand was rejected by a magistrate.
As a result, the investigation came to a halt on Monday, February 22, 2021.
According to police sources, Deepak Sontakke became a vaccinator at Chatari rural hospital on Friday, February 5, 2021.
Originally, Sontakke was a data entry operator.
He was placed in charge of the vaccines after the launch of the vaccination drive for health and frontline workers.
Talking about Sontakke’s potential involvement in the theft, Superintendent of Police G Shreedhar said:
“We would now conduct inquiries based upon our questioning of Sontakke and try to recover the stolen vials, if possible.
“The case has to be detected now.”
According to the Superintendent of Police, the offence against Deepak Sontakke is under Section 380 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for theft.