Fake coronavirus vaccines are rampant in Uganda. Recent reports revealed that 800 people were allegedly given the scam injection that only contained water, a horrendous act that reportedly involved several doctors and health workers, officials said on Wednesday.
The fake vaccine shots were supposedly injected from May to June amid the surge of the COVID-19 in the country. At the time, officials observed the average daily cases to surge past 1,700 infections.
Fake COVID-19 Vaccinations
The scammers targeted residents who were willing to pay to get vaccinated against the disease in a desperate attempt to get protected. Victims included corporate employees who wanted to get inoculated when the supply of the vaccines was running low.
Dr. Warren Naamara, the director of a health services monitoring unit under the presidency, said the "unscrupulous" criminals who made money off of fake vaccines scammed several members of the public with their fraudulent transactions. He revealed that authorities have already arrested two medical workers involved in the scam and noted that one doctor was still on the loose.
Naamara reassured the hundreds of victims that they should not worry about what was injected into them by the scammers as the vials did not contain any dangerous ingredients. He added that some of the injections contained water. The suspects allegedly charged anywhere between $22.5 to $140 per fake shot, government officials said, MSN reported.
On Wednesday, the health ministry announced that the country's government was distributing free and approved coronavirus vaccines at specified vaccination centers. President Yoweri Museveni on June 18 announced a freeze on all public and private transport that would last for 42 days. The decision was made along with a strict dusk-to-dawn curfew that aims to reduce the number of daily infections in the region.
Museveni noted that hospitals were overloaded with patients and were no longer able to deal with the outbreak properly. The efforts have shown signs of improvement with infection rates dropping with a reported 252 confirmed cases on Wednesday.
Surging Coronavirus Outbreak
Overall, Ugandan officials reported 91,162 total infections, with 2,425 deaths, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, based on a Wednesday tally of the country's health ministry, ABC reported.
Naamara noted that the suspects were only looking to get money as the injections were largely water. He said that the third medical worker involved in the scam was still being hunted by authorities and was the employer of the two arrested individuals.
Earlier this month, authorities conducted a raid into the suspects' premises where they found several vials that had tampered seals. Some of the containers also had fake vaccine labeling and false shipping information, Naamara noted.
Uganda officials reported that the number of COVID-19 infections in the country has surged as the Delta variant continues to spread and caused a second wave of the virus. In March, officials began a vaccination campaign that was hindered by a shortage of doses from COVAX. Residents were forced to queue in long lines in hopes of getting inoculated with the treatment, Reuters reported.