First Pharmacy involved in COVID-19 vaccines theft, police insists

First Pharmacy

First Pharmacy

Uganda Police insists First Pharmacy was involved in the theft of 800 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines despite the facility pleading innocency and instead demanding an apology from the police.

Police have since named 12 suspects picked up from Wandegeya complex that houses First Pharmacy, True Care Medical Centre and Modern Diagnostic Laboratory. According to police, upon search, over 803 AstraZeneca vaccines were recovered, thousands of empty virals supposed to be returned to government health facilities for accountability and over 1000 ministry of Health vaccination cards, consent forms, Kiswa Health Centre and Naguru Health Centre stamps, test tubes.

On Monday morning, First pharmacy held a press conference disputing the allegations and demanded an apology from the police,  claiming no raid was conducted on their facility or vaccines recovered. But the police insist some of the suspects belong to the pharmacy.

Police spokesperson, Fred Enanga identified the arrested suspects from Wandegeya Complex as Festo Seremba, Mushabe Festo, Lyanzi Deogratius Arnold, Cherop Nelson, Tayebwa Viola, Sekasi Julius and Nakadya Julian.      

An additional 5 suspects were arrested from Victoria hospital and these included; Karuhanga Perez, Dusabe Rosemary, Linda Plagya, Mutungi Martha and Kushemererwa Ester, who were also arrested, while administering vaccines.  Upon search, 62 vaccines were recovered, test tubes, vaccination cards and consent forms.

Enanga notes that investigations by the Criminal Investigations Directorates (CID) are still ongoing. According to Enanga, the investigations will reveal whether or not the suspects picked from First pharmacy work there or not.

Enanga notes that police have slapped different charges including being in possession of government stores, conspiracy to commit felonies, and theft against the suspects. Police indicate that similar operations are still ongoing after discovering that unscrupulous people stole vaccines from the ministry of Health store and are now busy selling them on the black market to the public.

More than 50 percent of the 964,000 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines donated by Covax Facility and India have already been used.

Recently, President Museveni in his televised address said that the government is preparing to get Johnson and Johnson vaccines from the USA and Cuba since India suspended exports. UNICEF announced that another 170,000 doses would be arriving in the country in two weeks.

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd