Patna, Bihar: A man from Bihar claimed to have received 12 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in just 11 months.
Brahmdev Mandal, 84, resident of Aurai Purvi village under Puraini block of Madhepura district in Bihar, received the first vaccine on February 13, last year at Puraini hospital. On March 13 he got a second dose in the same hospital.
With the second dose, his vaccination quota should have completed, but that didn't happen. He continued to take vaccines at some interval — 10 more to be precise, at vaccination camps organised in his panchayat.
He got at least two doses in Bhagalpur and Khagaria where he had gone to meet his relatives, he claimed.
BOOM reached out to Brahmdev to find out how and why he got these vaccines.
"I want more vaccines as it has improved my health," he said. He said that he had no idea that it would become news, otherwise he would have never revealed it.
He claimed that he had even got a jab in just two days' interval.
"I got the eighth dose of the vaccine on September 22, 2021 and the ninth dose on September 24", Brahmdev said. The last time — 12th time — he was vaccinated, was on the January 4 this year.
Brahmadev said that after taking the vaccine on January 4 he had talked to his friend and told him about taking 12 vaccines so far.
According to the health officials at Madhepura, most of the persons were given Covishield vaccines.
Till January 6, 10,25,57,013 doses of vaccines have been administered in Bihar, according to the health ministry website.
In Madhepura around 18,73,894 doses have been administered till January. 6 Out of this, around 2,94,587 persons are above 60 years of age.
Vaccines are being given at 290 government sites in the district.
How did he get so many vaccines?
Though district health officials are yet to figure out how he got so many vaccines, Brahmdev himself shared a few tricks he used for vaccination. "I had received nine vaccines on my Adhaar Card and three vaccinations on my voter card.
The 84-year-old said that he used his wife's and nephew's mobile number so that officials cannot deny vaccines.
Madhepura civil surgeon Dr. Amrendra Narayan Sahi told BOOM, "I have ordered an inquiry. I have asked all the registers where his entries were made. Our team is in the field. Stern actions will be taken if health officials are found to be the culprit."
The vaccination data is put online so if one person uses his Adhaar card for multiple vaccination, the data will reveal that he/she has already taken two vaccines earlier. Brahmdev's vaccination records should have also shown up.
"It's possible that he persuaded health workers. That is why we are investigating the matter," the civil surgeon said.
Kapildev Singh, husband of local panchayat chief Savitri Singh, told BOOM, "I think he must have claimed in front of health officials that he had not got vaccines earlier. Since he got most of the vaccines at panchayat level health centers and at camps, it may be that the health workers had believed his claim."
Brahmadev shared three certificates which show that he had received the vaccines more than two times on a single Aadhaar card.
Did no one find out before?
Brahmadev was in the news in September last year too when he had completed eight doses of the Coronavirus vaccine.
A local web portal Madhepura Times did a Facebook live on September 22, 2021, where the man claims to have received eight doses.
Waseem Akhtar, reporter at the portal, told BOOM, "I had got in touch with him in September last year when he had complained to me that health officials were not giving vaccination certificates. We ran a story on his claim of getting eight vaccines."
"Brahmadev's case is a clear indication that health officials are not updating vaccination data on the portal," he said.
Why did he get so many vaccines?
Brahmadev, who worked as a postman until he retired eight years ago, claimed that vaccines have 'cured his other ailments' so he decided to get as many as he could.
"I had severe joint pain for the last eight years. I was not able to defecate without the support of a stick. I was facing difficulties in walking as well," he said.
"I had visited doctors. They said that calcium deficiency has caused pain. They had given tablets and injections but it didn't work," he added.
However, with the vaccine, Brahmadev said, his "body pain ended". He also claimed that the vaccinations have improved his appetite.
Nirmala Devi, his wife also claimed that he now walks in a 'normal way'.
Experts do not buy Brahmadev's claim
Dr. Aviral Vatsa, NHS Scotland, told BOOM, "It is unlikely that a vaccine would have an impact on joint pains or appetite unless these symptoms were as a result of COVID-19 infection."
Brahmadev said that he never got infected with COVID-19. However, he added that he never got himself tested for the virus either.
Dr Vatsa said, "We don't have any data on the impact of vaccines on relief of any such symptoms. If indeed he has taken all those doses, it might be interesting to investigate his serum for immune reaction against Covid variants."
Dr. Shakeel, convenor of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (Bihar Chapter) told BOOM, "There is no scientific research anywhere in the world to prove the impact of COVID-19 vaccines on other diseases apart from coronavirus."
Dr. Shakeel expressed surprise on how one person can get 12 doses despite being everything online. "This means there are leakages in the system," he said.
On the question of probable adverse health impact of so many COVID-19 vaccines, Dr Vatsa said, "That is an uncharted territory as it has not been studied for 12 doses. But from the little data we have from other vaccines, there have not been any significant additional adverse effects for 1-2 extra doses of a vaccine."
Update: On the investigation
The investigation into 12 vaccines doses to Brahmdev Mandal has revealed that there is some lacunae in the software through which one's ID details are uploaded on COWIN portal.
The additional chief medical officer told BOOM, "Every time data were put in the software it accepted. So, the health officials did not realise that he (Brahmdev) was vaccinated earlier."
The officer said that they didn't find any mistake on the part of health workers involved in the vaccinations. "No action will we initiated against them," he said.
The report has been submitted to the health department. Meanwhile, the Health department has lodged an FIR against the 84-year-old in a case of cheating under Section 419 and Section 420.