Three state-run hospitals in Pakistan's Lahore are reportedly in the midst of COVID-19 'scams' after it was alleged that they administered vaccine to unauthorised persons or wasted several vials, causing embarrassment for the provincial government.
According to initial information obtained by Dawn so far, nearly 1,400 doses of the Chinese vaccine have either been authorised to 'unauthorised persons' or have gone missing. Such complaints have surfaced at Services, Jinnah and Mozang hospitals in Lahore.
Under the laid down policy, the vaccines were to be given to the registered health professionals only.
Following the complaints, the Punjab government launched an investigation to dig out facts, a senior official in the health department told Dawn.
He further informed that the Services Hospital Lahore was facing allegations of administering the COVID-19 vaccine to celebrities, including parents of the ministers and other individuals of the ruling elite.
Former medical superintendent Dr Saleem Cheema, in whose tenure the vaccines were administered, denied the allegations.
Stressing that the provincial government of Punjab periodically changed its policy to allow vaccination of senior citizens and also allowed walk-in service and vaccination to 50 and above people, Cheema said: "All the vaccine vials were available, stock and record of the used/empty vials were maintained."
He also clarified that the elderly people other than the health professionals were vaccinated at the Services Hospital during his tenure as per the policy of the Punjab government.
The former medical superintendent also claimed that the system of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) got 'choked' and the record of vaccinated people could not be incorporated in the system.
The issue was highlighted with some distorted facts and some elements portrayed it as if hundreds of doses [at Services] had gone missing or administered to unauthorised people, he said.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) questioned the efficiency of the administration of Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar over the 550 'missing' shots of the COVID-19 vaccine from the Services Hospital, reported Dawn.
"How come the corona vaccine disappeared from the hospital as it seemed that some 'VIPs' had been accommodated," PML-N Punjab information secretary Azma Bokhari said in a statement, adding that around 350 vaccine shots had expired due to out-of-orders freezers in Mozang Hospital.
Meanwhile, the Mayo Hospital faced a serious problem when it ran out of COVID-19 vaccines and health professionals were unable to get vaccinated for the last three days.
Mayo Hospital MS Dr Iftikhar Ahmad said that the Punjab government was trying hard to get the new stock from the Centre and the issue would be addressed 'amicably'.
Grappling from a third COVID-19 wave, Pakistan on Friday registered over 5,000 coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, the highest number of cases so far since the start of this year.
The country has reported 5,234 coronavirus cases, Dawn reported. With the new increase, the country tally has risen to 678,165.
( With inputs from ANI )
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