FAKE | COVID-19 | VACCINE
KAMPALA – More than 800 people from mostly 22 companies received a fake COVID-19 vaccine, the government confirmed on Monday (July 20, 20210).
According to the State House’s Health Monitoring Unit (HMU), victims have been advised to seek genuine vaccination against the coronavirus.
Late last month, the HMU and security agents arrested two people for allegedly administering an unauthorized COVID-19 vaccine.
The two people allegedly disguised themselves as nurses from Kiswa Health Center IV in Kampala and vaccinated more than 800 people, according to an archive book discovered by the officers.
The two suspects reportedly administer the vaccines for a fee of between $100,000 and $250,000.
The victims were employees of banks, road construction companies, manufacturing companies and other companies.
The head of the unit, Dr. Warren Naamara, confirmed Monday that the tests conducted at the Government Analytical Laboratory (GAL) and the National Drug Authority (NDA) confirmed that the unauthorized vaccine samples tested were indeed not genuine.
Naamara told media at Okello House in Kampala that lab tests had confirmed that the seized AstraZeneca Covishield vials were not comparable to the real ones.
Through NDA, HMU also sent samples of the seized vaccine to the vaccine’s manufacturer, Serum Institute of India Manufacturers of Vaccines and Immuno-biologicals, for comparison with the real ones.
Vaccine has not been imported
The institute confirmed that the alleged batch in question was never delivered to Uganda. The institute confirmed that the product label details on the specimens were falsified.
The National Medical Stores (NMS) had previously confirmed that the batch they were shown by HMU was not one of the batches imported into this country.
NMS is the only agency to date to be commissioned to import the COVID-19 vaccines. The good news, however, is that the lab analysis of the vial contents indicated they were non-toxic.
“They were more water than anything in chemical form. That’s why we want the population who received the fake vaccine to understand that it was not toxic and that they are not in danger.”
“So all persons who have been vaccinated for a fee at their premises are advised to get a free COVID shot at the approved vaccination points of the Ministry of Health when vaccines become available,” Naamara said.
The suspects have since been brought before the court and charged. They would have been found with 158 pieces of vaccination cards, cold chain vaccine carriers and nine vials of COVID-19 vaccines.
Each vaccine vial has 10 doses, meaning they were found with 90 COVID-19 vaccine doses.
The prime suspect, identified as Francis Baguma, reportedly posing as Dr. Baguma, allegedly approached and convinced companies to have their staff vaccinated, remains at large, according to Naamara.
“We are tirelessly looking for him and are calling on anyone with information about his whereabouts to call the toll-free number 0800200447,” he said.
Baguma’s arrest, Naamara said, will help determine if many more people have been vaccinated with the fake vaccine.
Contact the Ministry of Health
Naamara advised companies that would like to help their staff get vaccinated as a special case to work directly with the Ministry of Health or the Kampala Capital City Authority to get real vaccines.
“In any case, these companies should formally write to the Ministry of Health to get the right people. Please do not use private persons posing as doctors or nurses or representatives of the Ministry of Health. Be formal,” he said.
Naamara called on the public to follow the Ministry of Health guidelines in matters related to COVID-19 vaccination to avoid health complications and cheating. According to the NMS, only one foreign embassy under diplomatic cover has been allowed to import the COVID-19 vaccines into the country, an arrangement that was not allowed to be made public.
What the Ministry of Health says
The Ministry of Health has advised those who have received the fake vaccine to seek advice from health professionals as they consider getting vaccinated at the ministry’s designated vaccination centers.
“No unscrupulous people are allowed to disguise themselves as being from the Ministry of Health to come to people’s premises, but they cannot identify themselves properly.
If you come across such people, call the Ministry of Health on the toll-free number 0800100066 and contact the police,” said Emmanuel Ainebyoona, spokesperson for the ministry.