Doctor charged with stealing COVID-19 vaccine vial did not want to let it go to waste, attorney says

After being charged with stealing doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. Hasan Gokal is sharing his side of the story.

His attorney, Paul Doyle, held a press conference on Friday. He argues his client did not steal them. Instead, he used his best judgment to not let the doses go to waste.

"The vaccines have a pretty good shelf life, but if those vials are punctured you have six hours to administer the vaccines," noted Doyle.

According to court documents, Gokal with Harris County Public Health was the medical advisor of the agency's COVID response team.

On December 29, he was overseeing the vaccination site at Lyndsay Lyons Park in Humble.


His attorney says around 6:30 that evening, someone who qualified for the vaccine came in and a vial with 11 doses was opened. There were 10 remaining doses.

"He began to look for individuals to vaccinate who would qualify. He looked at the staff, first, that were still out there -- most of which had already recieved the vaccine," explained Doyle. "And, then also the law enforcement members."

Doyle says Gokal called a colleague to see if there was anyone who qualified for the vaccine who could come to the site within six hours.

When that was unsuccessful, he says, Gokal began reaching out to acquitances for people who would qualify for the vaccine. One of them, he says, cancelled at the last minute and Gokal quickly had to decide what to do with the vaccine before it expired. 

"He had 15 to 30 minutes or this dose is trash so he administers to his wife," said Doyle.

Doyle says Gokal's wife has a chronic lung condition. 

But court documents paint a different story. They indicate the county's protocol was to return leftover doses to the main office where it would contact frontline and public safety workers on a waiting list.


Investigators also say Gokal took the vial off-site and administered nine vaccines out of the county.

The vaccinations were entered into the Department of State Health Services. 

Doyle argues if Gokal was intending to give the vaccine to his family, he would have vaccinated his elderly father, but he did not.

The Texas Medical Board sent FOX 26 the following statement when asked about Gokal's license to practice medicine:
"The Board is aware of media reports on this matter but cannot comment on active investigations or complaints. Generally, the Board will work with local law enforcement when possible to gather the necessary underlying evidence related to any case. Any action taken by the Board will be public."