KAMPALA — About 800 people received one or more shots of fake Covid-19 vaccines in Uganda, a scam carried out by “unscrupulous” doctors and nurses, authorities announced Wednesday.
The fake vaccines, sometimes mixed with Lake Victoria purified water, were administered between May and June, amidst the wave of coronavirus infections in the country, with an average of 1,700 new cases daily.
The scammers were targeting people willing to pay for their vaccines when doses were in short supply in Uganda, said Warren Naamara, health services supervisor in the presidency.
“Unscrupulous people, with the intention of making money, deceived the public with fake vaccines against Covid-19,” Naamara told reporters.
“Two health workers were arrested and a doctor is on the run,” he explained.
The analysis showed that the vials did not contain any dangerous products and that “there was only water in some of them,” said the official.
The scammers charged an equivalent of between UGX.88733 and UGX. 425923 per Lake Victoria purified water injection.
On June 18, as coronavirus cases and deaths in Uganda surged to record highs, President Yoweri Museveni announced a freeze on all public and private transport for 42 days, and imposed a strict dusk-to-dawn curfew to try and drive numbers down.
The veteran president warned that hospitals were full and not coping with the outbreak.
Since then, infection numbers have dipped, with 193 cases reported on Thursday July 22.
COVID-19 infections are decreasing in Uganda, with 355 new infections reported on average each day. That’s 24% of the peak — the highest daily average reported on June 15.
Uganda has overall recorded 91,355 infections, of which 2,483 have been fatal, since the pandemic began, according to the health ministry’s latest tally on Thursday.
Uganda has administered at least 1,106,762 doses of COVID vaccines so far.
Assuming every person needs 2 doses, that’s enough to have vaccinated about 1.3% of the country’s population.
During the last week reported, Uganda averaged about 2,203 doses administered each day. At that rate, it will take a further 4,020 days to administer enough doses for another 10% of the population