A truck containing 2.40 lakh doses of Bharat Biotech-made Covaxin was found abandoned for nearly 12 hours after its driver went missing under mysterious circumstances in Madhya Pradesh’s Narsinghapur district on Saturday. It is estimated that the truck carried vaccines worth Rs 8 crores.
The matter came to light when the police were informed about a truck with the name Bharat Biotech written on it parked for over 12 hours near the Kareli bus stand, about 16 km from the district headquarters. According to Narsinghpur superintendent of police Vipul Shrivastava, the police found that the Tamil-Nadu registered truck was lying abandoned in the parking and the driver was missing.
On inspection, the police officials found that the truck was carrying the much sought-after COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin, which is manufactured by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech. Police found that the engine of the vehicle was running, and as a result the refrigerator on the truck was also running, therefore it was assumed that the vaccine doses were safe.
“As the engine of the vehicle was on, its refrigerator with vaccine doses was functioning. So, I feel that vaccines were safe,” Shrivastava said.
The police contacted the transport company TCI of Gurgaon and informed them about the driverless truck. The company said that they were also worried that they couldn’t contact the driver after finding out that the GPS system showed that the vehicle remained stationary at Kareli for a long time.
The company then arranged a new driver to fulfil the delivery order. The truck left for Karnal on Friday evening at around 8 pm.
Meanwhile, the police are yet to ascertain the whereabouts of the driver Vikas Mishra, who had gone missing after parking the truck at the roadside. The phone of the driver was found at a place 16 km from the spot.
When Shrivastava was asked if the area was prone to truck robberies, he denied saying road robberies are almost negligible in the region.
The police official further said the circumstantial evidence hint that the truck was not robbed. He also added that efforts are underway to track down the driver, who is in his early 20s and is from Amethi, Uttar Pradesh.