A group of villagers was given mixed doses of vaccines at a government hospital in Uttar Pradesh in an incident that an officer blames on "oversight". Around 20 villagers in Siddharthnagar district near the border with Nepal were given both Covaxin and Covishield. Officials claim no one has faced any adverse health effects and those responsible will be punished.
The shocker took place at a Primary Health Centre in the largely rural district around 270 km from state capital Lucknow. The villagers were injected with Covishield in the first week of April and then given Covaxin as their second dose on May 14.
"This is definitely an oversight. There are no instructions from the government to administer a cocktail of vaccines. So it is an oversight. We had ordered an enquiry and have got the report. I have asked for an explanation from those who are guilty. We will take whatever action is possible," said Sandeep Chaudhary, Chief Medical Officer of Siddharthnagar.
While the effectiveness or impact of mixing vaccines is still a subject of global research, the official claimed none of the villagers had suffered any adverse effects from the "oversight".
"Our teams have spoken to everyone and have met all those who were mistakenly administered the second dose. They are all healthy and not facing any problems," Mr Chaudhary said.
But at least one of the villagers who received the mixed shots told the media no one from the health department had come to check on them. "I found out later that I had been administered Covaxin. A doctor told us that something wrong had happened," Ram Surat, an elderly man, told reporters.
The villager said he was scared about the fallout of these doses. "I got the first dose of Covishield on April 1, the second vaccine was administered on May 14. When I went for my second dose, no one bothered to check anything. In place of Covishield I got Covaxin. It is scary. I am worried...no one has come to follow up," Ram Surat said.
Uttar Pradesh's pace of vaccination is among the lowest in the country, especially counting only big states. For example, only 1.4 per cent of the total population has been fully vaccinated compared to more than double that all-India and six per cent in places like Gujarat and Kerala. While the state has administered 1.75 crore vaccine doses in three months, the number of fully-vaccinated people in the state is just 33 lakhs, 1.8 per cent of UP's massive 23 crore-plus population.