Authorities at State House have offered new details on how a quack doctor in the Covid vaccines scam injected victims with “water” packed in vials and walked away with millions of shillings from more than 800 individuals and at least 11 unsuspecting companies.
In an interview with Daily Monitor yesterday, Dr Warren Naamara, a director at State House Health Monitoring Unit, however, asked victims of bogus Covid-19 shots to remain calm and ruled out any possible side effects.
“The thief could have used either tap water, rain water or Rwenzori water to inject people but we suspect he could have preferred tap water because it’s the cheapest,” Dr Naamara said.
“People shouldn’t get worried of the fake vaccine, instead they should be firm as they wait for the results from National Drug Authority lab.”
He added: “This conman carried out the vaccination while looking for money but not to harm anyone, so there is a possibility that he could have injected all those people with water packed in a similar Covid-19 bottle.”
Dr Naamara also said the number of companies that received fake vaccines has since increased from nine to 11 and individuals have also increased from 812 to an undisclosed figure.
The director disclosed the names of affected companies and declined to reveal names of the victims because investigations are still ongoing.
Samples sent to NDA
State House officials yesterday sent two samples to NDA lab for further scientific examination.
The drugs authority has also been asked to study and test the content and verify the batch numbers with the genuine government vaccines from the National Medical Stores (NMS).
The alleged fake Covid-19 vaccines were impounded from Nakawa last week and two nurses with KCCA tags were arrested with stamps of Kiswa Health Centre IV.
The duo are currently detained at Jinja Road Police Station. They face a holding charge of illegal possession of government stores and impersonation of government officials.
Kiswa LC1 chairman alerted the Resident City Commissioner last week after residents complained that some people were charging between Shs100,000 and Shs200,000 for vaccination yet it is supposed to be free.
The RCC invited State House and other intelligence agencies to investigate the matter. State House investigations have since identified a man calling himself Dr Francis Baguma as the architect of the fake vaccines scam.
Dr Baguma is currently on the run and security agencies are hunting for him to face a litany of charges relating to illegal possession of government stores.
State House yesterday sent out a tweet, seeking help from the public to provide necessary information about Dr Baguma.
Dr Naamara said the prime suspect is a dropout from Makerere University, who was pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in statistics.
He also disclosed that detectives have established details of his parents and communicated to them. He didn’t disclose the details of the conversation with the suspect’s parents.
“We have visited some companies and they have given us the number of people that received the vaccine and the number has increased from what we reported yesterday,” Dr Naamara said.
Although State House named a total of 11 companies from Kampala Metropolitan area among the victims, some of the firms denied the claims.
They said their staff were not subjected to mass Covid-19 vaccination exercise at Kiswa Health Centre and promised to investigate the matter.
Company speaks out
Mr Robert Kazoora, a senior communications officer at Dott Services Uganda, said: “Dott Service is not a health centre or vaccination facility, we employ very many people across the country , if there is one of our staff who took that vaccine , we shall find out because vaccination was at individual level, not company level, we did not carry out any mass vaccination at any Dott offices across the country.”
Dr Naamara said the State House unit is working closely with Ministry of Health, the police, Internal Security Organisation, office of Nakawa RCC, NDA and NMS to investigate the scam.
Preliminary investigations indicate that the two nurses said they vaccinated very many people in private companies and clinics.
“These suspects don’t know each other, so there is a possibility that the alleged doctor had very many illegal vaccination centres,” Dr Naamara said.
List of firms
1-Diamond Trust Bank
2-Dott Service Limited
4-United Bank of Africa
8-EAP Insurance company
9-Dot Max Packaging