Yes, people are allegedly trying to steal the COVID vaccine

COVID vaccine and syringe - stealing
Photo via Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

With several approved vaccines officially in distribution around the world, some people expected that COVID-19 would be little but a memory by the summer of 2021. Delays and seemingly endless hurdles in vaccine distribution have blunted this expectation somewhat, particularly after news broke that numerous attempts have been made to steal doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

It’s true. People are allegedly really making attempts to steal vaccines. In Polk County, Florida, 31-year-old paramedic Joshua Colon has been charged with stealing three doses of the Moderna vaccine at the behest of his supervisor, Capt. Tony Damiano. Colon then allegedly attempted to fudge the paperwork to cover up his theft. Damiano reportedly wanted the vaccine for his elderly mother, according to USA Today

Two of the doses allegedly stolen by Colon were left unrefrigerated and are no longer viable for use. One remains unaccounted for. He resigned from his position, and faces 12 felony charges and two misdemeanor charges. His supervisor, Damiano, is under investigation, as well. 

In Philadelphia, the CEO of start-up Philly Fighting COVID was allegedly seen packing “a bundle of unused vaccines into his bag” on Jan. 23. Volunteers working on site say they saw Andrei Doroshin take “maybe 10 to 15” doses, which were allotted for the long line of people awaiting the vaccine, and put them in his bag, according to WHYY, Philadelphia’s NPR station.

Later, a Snapchat photo reportedly showed him administering a dose to an unidentified person. This came less than a day after dozens of people, many of them elderly, were turned away due to a supposed lack of supply.

Doroshin later admitted that he took the doses home with him. What consequences he will face for his actions, if any, have yet to be determined. 

Alleged attempts of stealing the COVID-19 vaccine have also occurred in Texas. Dr. Hasan Gokal has been charged with taking nine doses of the vaccine on Dec. 29, 2020, according to CNN. He allegedly administered them to several people he claims were eligible, including his wife. He was fired from his position and charged with theft by a public servant.

The alleged thefts were all promptly reported by witnesses, and authorities are cracking down in hopes of dissuading any future thieves.

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Sources: USA Today, CNN, WHYY

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