BANGKOK (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Thai military has confirmed that an army doctor had injected United Nations peacekeeping troops in South Sudan with water instead of vaccines.
The doctor had told the peacekeeping troops that the shots were flu vaccines that could protect against Covid-19, said military commander Chalermpol Srisawat. The medic administered the injections to 273 soldiers, charging each person US$20 (S$27) for the fake vaccination.
A soldier became suspicious after noticing that the bottles used in the scam were unlabelled. He alerted his superiors, who found that the bottles contained plain water.
The UN medical representative asked Thai Army officials to send the doctor back to Thailand and also help prevent such incidents from occurring again.
The doctor returned to Thailand but has absconded from duty, so the army dismissed him and withdrew his medical licence. He is reportedly still on the run, while his parents say he has not returned home.
General Chalermpol insisted that the incident would not affect the UN's confidence in the Thai military.
The vaccine scam was revealed by a Transparency International report titled, "The Unspoken Covid-19 Vaccine Challenges - Distribution and Corruption", which said the army doctor served at a field hospital in South Sudan from December 2019 to December 2020. He was suspended from duties pending an investigation into fraud allegations.