Name an award after Dr. Hasan Gokal
Recently Dr Hasan Gokal found himself accused of stealing doses of the Moderna vaccine in Texas. He found this out when reporters showed up to his door. He was fired from his government job, charged, and saw his face appearing around the world. He was framed as a vaccine thief.
All of this happened because he did not want 10 doses of the vaccine to go to waste.
It happened on December 29th 2020, at a country vaccination site. Dr Gokal was told that once anyone eligible was vaccinated, if any spare doses remained, to “Just put it in people’s arms. We don’t want any doses to go to waste. Period.”
So when a new vial was opened at the end of the day (containing 11 doses, 1 of which was given to someone), and no new people showed up, Dr Gokal knew there were 10 doses that would go to waste.
Dr Gokal did not want to let this happen. He contacted a public health official and told them of his plan to find 10 eligible people to give the vaccine to. He asked the other people working with him if they needed one, as well as two police officers, one who didn't need it, and one who declined. Stuck with 10 vaccines that would only last another 6 hours, he was left with no choice but to let them go to waste. But he didn't. Instead he thought quickly and called people in his phone's contact list, driving and meeting with relatives of distant contacts, people he didn't know. He gave all of them a vaccine until finally he had 3 doses left.
He gave 2 of these to people waiting outside his house. One, a mother of a child who uses a ventilator. The other someone who works at the front desk of a health clinic.
The last person due to arrive at his house to receive the vaccine couldn't show up, and so with minutes remaining before the vaccine couldn't be used, Dr Gokal gave the dose to his wife, whose pulmonary sarcoidosis makes her eligible for the vaccine anyway. He was reluctant to give her the vaccine, but with nobody else available, he did it with minutes to spare.
He then submitted the paperwork for the 10 people he managed to vaccinate, and for the 10 doses he wouldn't let go to waste.
For doing all of this to vaccinate as many people as possible, Dr Hasan Gokal was treated like a thief. What he did was an act of heroism, and that is why I believe he should be celebrated for it, and that an award should be named after him.
An award for going above and beyond to protect people.
Whilst the case against Dr Gokal was dropped, we need urgently to retell his story, and to celebrate him, otherwise other people will be afraid of doing the right thing.
My main sources for this were