At least 800 people in Uganda have received fake coronavirus vaccines – some injected with water – in a scam involving “unscrupulous” doctors and health workers, government officials said on Wednesday.
The counterfeit jabs were administered in May and June during a deadly wave of coronavirus in the East African country, when new infections reached record highs of around 1,700 cases per day.
Scammers have targeted people seeking to pay for vaccination, including company employees, at a time when vaccines were scarce, said Dr Warren Naamara, director of a health services monitoring unit under the presidency.
“Some unscrupulous individuals with the intention of making money tricked members of the public into a fake Covid-19 vaccination exercise,” Dr Naamara told AFP.
“We arrested two medical workers in the scam, and a doctor is on the run. “
He said those who managed to get a fake vaccine – around 800 people – shouldn’t be alarmed because tests indicated the vials did not contain anything dangerous.
“Some contained water,” he added.
The crooks charged recipients between 80,000 and 500,000 Ugandan shillings (about $ 25 to 120 / € 20 to 100) for a fake shot, officials said.
The Department of Health said on Wednesday that the government was providing free and approved Covid-19 vaccines at designated vaccination sites.
On June 18, as coronavirus cases and deaths in Uganda reached record highs, President Yoweri Museveni announced a 42-day freeze on all public and private transport and imposed a strict dusk-to-night curfew. dawn to try to lower the number.
The veteran president warned hospitals were full and not facing the outbreak.
Since then, the number of infections has declined, with 252 cases reported on Wednesday.
Uganda has recorded a total of 91,162 infections, of which 2,425 have been fatal, since the start of the pandemic, according to the latest health ministry count on Wednesday.
© 2021 AFP