A doctor in Texas who graduated from Upstate Medical University in Syracuse was fired and charged with theft after administering Covid vaccines that would have expired within hours, according to The New York Times.
The doctor, Hasan Gokal, 48, immigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan as a boy and earned his medical degree from Upstate. He worked at hospitals in Central New York before moving to Texas in 2009, according to the Times.
He worked at hospitals there before becoming medical director for the Harris County Public Health Covid-response team in the Houston area earlier this year.
The county was running a vaccine clinic in December that was mostly intended for emergency workers. Gokal was there to supervise, but turnout was light.
Late in the day, an eligible individual showed up and a worker broke the seal on a new vial, which held 11 doses. It was unlikely enough eligible people would show up at that point to use the remaining doses and Gokal was determined not to waste them, according to the Times.
He eventually tracked enough people down through his phone’s contact list. The recipients included a women in her 80s with dementia, a man in his 60s with health issues, a mother with a child who uses a ventilator and Gokal’s own wife, who has a lung condition that makes her vulnerable to Covid.
Though he informed his supervisors of what he had done at the time and filed all the proper paperwork, he was fired several days later, according to the Times. Officials told him he should have returned the doses to the county or thrown them away.
He was later charged with theft, although a judge dismissed the case as groundless. The local district attorney plans to present the case to a grand jury.
Gokal’s lawyer says his client acted responsibly, according to the Times.