Scammers exploiting Covaxin, Covishield fears

by reinalemmons2

In an alarming trend, authorities have flagged concerns over fraudulent activities exploiting inquiries about Covid-19 vaccinations. According to law enforcement officials, scammers are leveraging fears regarding vaccine efficacy to deceive unsuspecting individuals into disclosing sensitive personal information, such as Aadhaar numbers and bank details, a TOI report stated.

Fraudsters exploiting vaccine fears
Reports from Kolkata indicate that numerous residents have fallen victim to such schemes. Fraudsters posing as representatives from the health department have been contacting individuals, purportedly to verify whether they have received Covishield or Covaxin vaccinations. Subsequently, these callers proceed to solicit personal information, including Aadhaar numbers. Additionally, some individuals have reported receiving calls from interactive voice response systems (IVRS) featuring prerecorded messages, requesting vaccine-related details.


Modus Operandi

An officer from the Kolkata Police‘s cyber cell elaborated on the modus operandi of these scams. “The recorded voice prompts individuals to indicate whether they have been vaccinated against Covid-19. If affirmative, they are instructed to select an option corresponding to their vaccine choice. Following this, the phone experiences disruptions, with network connectivity issues persisting for several hours,” stated the officer. Although no financial losses have been reported thus far, cybersecurity experts caution that these tactics likely aim to hijack personal devices to harvest sensitive information and potentially gain unauthorized access to bank accounts.

Police Issue Advisory
Law enforcement agencies have issued repeated advisories urging citizens to exercise vigilance when fielding calls from unfamiliar numbers. Authorities stress the importance of refraining from disclosing personal details, bank account information, or one-time passwords (OTPs) to unknown callers.

Doctors Emphasize Minimal Risk Associated with Vaccination, Urge Public Calm

In response to the emerging threat of vaccine-related fraud, law enforcement authorities have emphasized guidance from medical professionals and researchers, who urge the public not to succumb to undue alarm regarding the safety of the Covishield vaccine.

According to Santanu K Tripathi, a professor and former head of clinical and experimental pharmacology at STM, concerns surrounding the Covishield vaccine’s potential health risks are largely unfounded. Tripathi emphasized, “No drug or vaccine can be deemed entirely risk-free. However, given the widespread benefits observed following the administration of the Covishield vaccine, the associated risks remain minimal. Anxiety surrounding thrombosis thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) linked to Covishield is unwarranted, and there is no cause for panic.”

Tripathi pointed to statistical data to support his assertion, revealing that out of approximately 85 crore individuals who received two doses of the Covishield vaccine, only 36 cases of Covishield-related TTS were reported, resulting in 18 fatalities. “Despite potential under-reporting and low treatment-seeking behavior in India, the incidence of TTS associated with Covishield remains exceedingly low,” Tripathi concluded.

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