Indian man on the run after ‘cheating’ vaccine system with 12 jabs

Indian man on the run after ‘cheating’ vaccine system with 12 jabs
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This undated photo shows 84-year-old Brahmadev Mandal, a resident of India's Bihar state, who has received 12 COVID-19 shots since February 2020. (Photo courtesy: Brahmadev Mandal)
Indian man on the run after ‘cheating’ vaccine system with 12 jabs
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This undated photo shows 84-year-old Brahmadev Mandal, left, a resident of India's Bihar state, who has received twelve COVID-19 shots since February 2020. (Photo courtesy: Brahmadev Mandal)
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Updated 12 January 2022

Indian man on the run after ‘cheating’ vaccine system with 12 jabs

Indian man on the run after ‘cheating’ vaccine system with 12 jabs
  • 84-year-old clerk was vaccinated every month after he felt improvements in long-standing knee pain after first dose
  • The case raises questions about India’s vaccine registration system and concerns about overdose side effects

NEW DELHI: When Brahmadev Mandal, an 84-year-old resident of India’s eastern Bihar state, got his first COVID-19 vaccine dose in February last year, he said he felt a “great improvement” in the knee pain that had bothered him for years. 

After the second dose, the retired clerk said he no longer needed to use a cane to walk and decided to get vaccinated every month.

Mandal, who then went on to get jabbed at least another 10 times and kept a diary of all his doses, has been charged with abusing the vaccination system. According to one entry in his diary, the father of six and grandfather of 10 was vaccinated twice in the span of 10 days last September. 

“For me, the vaccine was some kind of treatment and way to achieve better health,” Mandal told Arab News on Sunday from his village, Aurai. “I know a case has been registered against me, but I will seek judicial redressal.”

The police charges against Mandal fall under sections 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 419 (cheating by personation), and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code, all non-bailable offenses. 

Despite the police case, Mandal said he wouldn’t mind getting a 13th jab “if the opportunity comes.”

Mandal spoke to Arab News before a visit by the police to his house on Sunday night, by which time he had fled. His wife said officers broke the lock of the couple’s bedroom, calling it “harassment.”

“I don’t understand what is the crime of my husband,” Nirmala Devi, 80, told Arab News.

She said Mandal had tried all kinds of treatments for his back and knee aches, even traveling to see doctors in Bhagalpur, a city 100 km away from his village.

“But he started seeing a difference in his pain after he got the vaccination and that’s why he got used to taking jabs at regular intervals,” Devi said. 

Deepak Dharamdas, the station house officer at the Aurai police station, confirmed that the police had visited Mandal’s home on Sunday night but he had absconded. He denied that the police had vandalized his house. 

“How can you trust a man who has taken 12 vaccines by producing different documents? He is a fraud,” Dharamdas said. 

Health workers, upon whose complaints the police registered a case, said Mandal had “exploited loopholes” in the vaccine registration system.  

In order to get vaccinated, Indian residents need to register on the government’s CoWIN platform using their national identification numbers. The system then directs them to designated vaccination centers. 

But in rural areas like Madhepura district where Mandal lives and where access to the Internet is limited, data from locally organized vaccination camps is often not immediately uploaded to the system.

“Mandal took advantage of that,” Dr. Abdus Salam, an additional chief medical officer in the district, told Arab News. “We are now trying to address this.”

Mandal’s case is not the only one that highlights shortcomings in the registration system.

To mark Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday on Sept. 17, 2021, states competed to administer the most jabs. 

When Bihar was declared the winner with 3.4 million out of 25 million jabs recorded across the country, an investigation by local journalists found that the figure had been inflated by state authorities, with data from previous days withheld and uploaded to the system during the contest.

Madhepura-based journalist Kumar Ashish, who works for the Hindi-language daily Prabhat Khabar that broke the news about Mandal, said the police case against him was an attempt by local officials to “save their skin” after failing to maintain transparency in the data.

“This case raises question marks over the accuracy of vaccination data,” Ashish told Arab News.

To doctors, however, it raises questions of a different nature.

“The man is lucky that he does not have any side effects,” said Dr. Ashim Gupta from Madhepura, listing pneumonia, kidney and heart problems as some possible complications. “It’s a matter for research. I want to examine Mandal.”

He added that Mandal’s belief that the vaccine jabs had cured his knee was probably just a “psychological impact.”

The doctor warned: “There are chances of sudden death also if you take an overdose of vaccines.”


Chinese teachers leave Pakistan after deadly bombing at university

A security guard walks after a blast near a passenger van (not pictured) at the entrance of the Confucius Institute University o
A security guard walks after a blast near a passenger van (not pictured) at the entrance of the Confucius Institute University o
Updated 6 sec ago

Chinese teachers leave Pakistan after deadly bombing at university

A security guard walks after a blast near a passenger van (not pictured) at the entrance of the Confucius Institute University o
  • Four were killed in a suicide bombing at Karachi University’s Confucius Institute last month
  • Chinese nationals have frequently been targeted by separatists from Balochistan

KARACHI: Chinese teachers have left Pakistan’s port city of Karachi, a university official has confirmed, weeks after a targeted suicide blast killed their colleagues. 

Three Chinese language teachers and their Pakistani driver were killed in late April when a blast that also injured several others ripped through their van near Karachi University’s Confucius Institute. The attack was later claimed by the separatist Balochistan Liberation Army. 

Chinese nationals have frequently been targeted by separatists from Balochistan, where Beijing is involved in mega infrastructure projects as part of its Belt and Road Initiative. 

Academic activities were suspended at the university following the attack last month, and all Chinese teachers were moved outside the campus. 

“On Sunday, all remaining 12 teachers at the institute left along with the remains of the deceased teachers for China,” Dr. Nadir Uddin, the Pakistani director of the Confucius Institute, told Arab News. 

“The institute has not been closed. It will go on, and academic activities here may soon be resumed through other methods.”

Launched in 2013, the Confucius Institute is a Chinese government-run body that offers language and cultural programs overseas conducted by Karachi University and the Sichuan Normal University in Chengdu. The institute’s Chinese director was among those killed in the bombing last month. 

Another Karachi university official said the Chinese teachers may not return. 

“The return of Chinese teachers is unlikely,” the official told Arab News on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the press. 

“The administration has decided to resume academic activities in distance learning mode, in which teachers in China will teach Mandarin online.”

The Chinese Consulate in Karachi did not immediately respond to Arab News’ queries for this story. 

The bombing at the Confucius Institute was the first major attack on Chinese nationals in Pakistan since last year when a suicide bomber blew up a passenger bus. That incident killed 13 people, including nine Chinese workers employed at the Dasu Hydropower Project in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. 

Beijing has pledged over $60 billion for infrastructure projects in Pakistan under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor framework that is central to China’s initiative to forge new “Silk Road” land and sea ties to markets in the Middle East and Europe.

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  • McDonald’s Corp, the world’s largest fast food chain, said it was pulling out of Russia because of the conflict
  • On battlefields near Kharkiv, an interior ministry adviser said Ukrainian troops were mounting a counter-offensive

RUSKA LOZOVA: Ukrainian troops have pushed Russian forces back from the northeastern city of Kharkiv and some have advanced as far as the border with Russia, Ukrainian officials said on Monday.
The developments, if confirmed, would signal a further shift in momentum in favor of Ukraine nearly three months into a conflict that began when Russia sent tens of thousands of troops over the border into Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Sweden meanwhile was expected to take a formal decision on Monday to apply to join NATO following a similar move by Finland — a change in the Nordic countries’ long-standing policy of neutrality brought on by the Russian invasion and concern about President Vladimir Putin’s wider ambitions.
“Europe, Sweden and the Swedish people are living now in a new and dangerous reality,” Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said during a debate in parliament in Stockholm.
Moscow warned of “far-reaching consequences” should they should go ahead.
And in another setback for Putin, McDonald’s Corp, the world’s largest fast food chain, said it was pulling out of Russia because of the conflict.
In Brussels, the European Union was working on a package of further economic sanctions on Russia to step up international pressure on Putin.
Counter-offensive
On the battlefields near Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, interior ministry adviser Vadym Denisenko said Ukrainian troops were mounting a counter-offensive.
“It can no longer be stopped... Thanks to this, we can go to the rear of the Russian group of forces,” he said.
Kharkiv, lying about 30 miles (50 km) from the border with Russia, had endured weeks of heavy Russian bombardments. The Russian retreat from the city follows their failure to capture the capital Kyiv in the early stages of the war.
But thousands of people, including many civilians, have been killed across the country, cities have been blasted into ruins, and more than six million people have fled their homes to seek refuge in neighboring states in scenes not seen in Europe since the Balkan wars of the 1990s. Russia denies targeting civilians.
Ukraine’s defense ministry said on Monday the 227th Battalion of the 127th Brigade of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces had reached the border with Russia.
Kharkiv region governor Oleh Sinegubov said the troops had restored a sign on the border.
“We thank everyone who, risking their lives, liberates Ukraine from Russian invaders,” Sinegubov said.
Reuters could not verify Ukraine’s account and it was not clear how many troops had reached the Russian border or where.
If confirmed, it would suggest the northeastern counter-offensive is having increasing success after Western military agencies said Moscow’s offensive in two eastern provinces known as the Donbas had stalled.
Konrad Muzyka, director of the Poland-based Rochan consultancy, said he was not surprised at the Ukrainian gains.
“The Ukrainians have been in the border regions for a few days already,” he told Reuters. “It’s symbolic and it definitely has PR value, but this was to be expected.
“Don’t get me wrong, the Russians still enjoy overall artillery superiority in terms of numbers, but I’m not sure if the same goes for the quality now.”
The governor of the Luhansk region in Donbas, Serhiy Gaidai, said the situation “remains difficult,” with Russian forces trying to capture the town of Sieverodonetsk.
He said leaders of the Lugansk People’s Republic, the territory in Luhansk controlled by Russian-backed separatists, declared a general mobilization, adding it was “either fight or get shot, there is no other choice.”
In the south, fighting was raging around the city of Kherson and Russian missiles struck residential areas of Mykolayiv, the presidential office in Kyiv said. Reuters was unable to verify the reports.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday Ukraine could win the war, an outcome few military analysts predicted when Russia invaded Ukraine.

Expanding NATO
In a blow for Russia, which has long opposed NATO expansion, Finland and Sweden moved ahead with plans to join the alliance.
But Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said on Monday that Finland and Sweden were making a mistake that would have far-reaching consequences.
“They should have no illusions that we will simply put up with it,” Ryabkov said, quoted by the Interfax news agency.
Moscow calls its invasion of Ukraine a “special military operation” to rid the country of fascists, an assertion Kyiv and its Western allies say is a baseless pretext for an unprovoked war.
The most intense fighting appeared to be around the eastern Russian-held city of Izium, where Russia said it had struck Ukrainian positions with missiles.
Russia continued to target civilian areas along the entire frontline in Luhansk and Donetsk, firing at 23 villages and towns, Ukraine’s military task force said.
Ukraine’s military also acknowledged setbacks, saying Russian forces “continue to advance” in several areas in the Donbas region.
There was also no letup on Sunday in Russia’s bombardment of the steelworks in the southern port of Mariupol, where a few hundred Ukrainian fighters are holding out weeks after the city fell into Russian hands, the Ukrainian military said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said “very difficult and delicate negotiations” were going on to save Ukrainians in Mariupol and Azovstal.

Farewell to Big Macs 
McDonald’s said it had started the process of selling its restaurants in Russia, following many other Western companies who are getting rid of their Russian assets to comply with international sanctions.
The decision to close its 847 restaurants in Russia marked the retreat of a Western brand whose presence there had been emblematic of the end of the Cold War.
“The humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, and the precipitating unpredictable operating environment, have led McDonald’s to conclude that continued ownership of the business in Russia is no longer tenable,” McDonald’s said.
French car-maker Renault also announced it will sell its majority stake in carmaker Avtovaz to a Russian science institute.