Medan (Indonesia) (AFP)
Four people have been arrested in Indonesia for allegedly stealing marked Covid-19 vaccines for prisoners and selling them to the public, authorities said on Tuesday.
The suspects took more than 1,000 doses made by Chinese Sinovac from the prisoners’ quota, offering them to buyers in the capital Jakarta and the city of Medan in North Sumatra for around 250,000 rupees ($ 17) each. .
The four people arrested included a doctor at a Medan prison and a local health official, police said. They could be sentenced to life imprisonment if found guilty under Indonesian anti-corruption law.
“One of the suspects brought the vaccines to Jakarta where we also discovered some places providing the service,” North Sumatra police spokesman Hadi Wahyudi told AFP on Tuesday.
Indonesia has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and is rolling out a massive vaccination program for many of its nearly 270 million people.
Citizens are vaccinated free of charge.
But tens of millions of people are still awaiting their shots, with limited supplies prioritized for frontline health workers and other high-risk groups – including inmates in overcrowded Indonesia prisons.
The country’s prison system is known for its poor conditions and rights groups have warned of the risk of a coronavirus outbreak in the archipelago’s prisons.
The arrests follow another vaccine scandal in North Sumatra this month, when police said they discovered health workers at Medan airport were recycling cotton swabs from Covid-19 tests into them. washing and repackaging them.
The program could have affected thousands of passengers tested at the airport, they said.
Indonesia has officially reported more than 1.7 million cases of coronavirus and nearly 50,000 deaths.
© 2021 AFP