There is vaccine hesitancy. On the other side, there’s Brahmdeo Mandal.
Mr. Mandal is so excited about the healing promise of a jab that he says he has received 12 coronavirus vaccine doses — so far.
You may wonder how. Mr. Mandal, a retired postman in northern Indian state Bihar at 85 years old, is happy sharing his experience.
He said he received his first dose on Feb. 13 at a local clinic, and he hasn’t stopped since. He has kept track of the dates and locations of each jab in a notebook. He said that his ninth shot was on September 24th at 12:32 p.m. in Kalashan, Madhepura District.
“I felt that it was helping my general health,” he said in a phone interview. “My backache has improved, my general weakness improved, and my appetite improved.”
“I was always looking for new vaccine camps and would go there,” Mr. Mandal said. “Nobody would recognize me.”
Madhepura’s chief physician, Dr. Amarendra Narayan Shakhi, said that he had spoken to Mr. Mandal about his quest to get more dosages of the drug because he believed it cured many of his ailments, many which were natural in his age.
“Yes, he is claiming that he got 12 doses,” Dr. Shahi said. “I have constituted a three-member investigating team to find the truth.”
He claimed that he used his mobile number and his national identification card for nine of the 12 shots Mr. Mandal registered for. He stated that he switched to alternate forms of identification after that, such as his voting card and the mobile numbers his wife and his close friends.
Although it is unclear how Mr. Mandal was found out, it seemed that he was bragging about his boosters to someone who had then tipped of the local news media. Authorities in Madhepura have also launched an investigation.
There are no evidence to suggest that 12 shots of vaccine can supercharge the immune system or do anything other than what it is intended to do.
It is still debated whether over-boosting the immune response can cause it to become tired, or if it can prevent it from responding properly to future vaccines.
Only an investigation can confirm that Mr. Mandal was given the number of doses he claims. But there have certainly been many irregularities in Bihar during India’s vaccination drive — a massive undertaking with 1.5 billion doses administered so far.
In September, when a remarkable 25 million doses were administered to mark Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday, Bihar topped the list of states with about 3.4 million doses.
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But media reports later suggested that Bihar’s vaccination numbers were likely inaccurate — that data from offline vaccinations from previous days were intentionally withheld and uploaded on the campaign day to inflate the total. A few weeks later, it was revealed that one district in Bihar had been reporting ghost shots: Prime Minister Modi, along with some Bollywood celebrities, were all listed as having received the vaccine, but clearly they had not.
It is precisely the manual registration that would have come in handy in Mr. Mandal’s quest to keep getting shots before boosters were being offered — and then to keep on boosting every month or so, he said.
Mr. Mandal acknowledged that he had received the shot every time he registered for a new jab. “Every time I told them a lie — that I had not,” he said.
Dr. Shahi, the district chief medical officer, stated that internet problems in Madhepura meant that many areas had vaccinations done offline and data was uploaded later. He said what was surprising, if Mr. Mandal’s claim turns out true, is that the portal did not detect repeat uploads when the data went online.
He said that he would continue to look for new opportunities for Mr. Mandal. “I still want more,” he said.
Source: NY Times