Police in a Joint operations with the Ministry of Health have recovered over 600 dosages of Astra Zaneca, a vaccine for Covid-19 from three pharmacies in Kampala city.
The operation in which 10 suspects were also arrested was conducted this weekend by Crime Intelligence after a tip off from a whistleblower who reported to the Ministry and the law enforcement body.
The first raid was conducted on Modern Diagnostic Laboratory and True Care Clinic in Mulago on Friday afternoon.
It was earlier reported the vaccines were found at First Pharmacy.
However, Yusuf Ahmed who runs First Pharmacy, denied that his businesses was raided by police.
“We operate from the same premises with other pharmacies which were stormed by police,” said Ahmed.
CCTV footage seen by this media house shows detectives raiding Modern Diagnostic Laboratory and True Care.
Staff were seen being bundled in waiting vehicles before being taken away for detention.
The theft of COVID-19 vaccines will startle the nation.
Police first sent intelligence operatives who disguised as travelers seeking COVID-19 vaccination and certificates.
According to an eyewitness, the security guard directed them to Modern Diagnostics Laboratory.
Armed Police counter terrorism personnel dressed in black uniform swiftly stormed the place, taking away stolen vaccines.
“I saw the police carrying away a huge fridge from Modern Diagnostics Laboratory. Staff were also detained,” said the eyewitness.
Moments later, detectives intercepted a staff of True Care Clinic as he was locking the clinic to run away.
“Let’s check what is inside,” a detective said.
As the True Care staff opened the door, documents related to COVID-19 vaccination dropped from the bag.
Detectives searched the premises where they recovered more exhibits before taking away the staff.
On Saturday afternoon, police raided the same premises, arresting more staff of Diagnostics Laboratory and True Care.
The developments come at a time Uganda is facing acute shortage of COVID-19 vaccines.
Victoria Pharmacy in Ntinda was also raided by police, recovering COVID-19 vaccines.
Police now want the suspects to help in investigations on how they obtained the vaccines which are solely under the administration of Ministry of health.
Although the identities of the suspects have not yet been established, KMP deputy spokesperson ASP Luke Owoyesigire told this website that they are under custody at Special Investigations Unit in Kireka and statements are being obtained from them.
In the operation, police also recovered a number of test tubes, Ministry of health vaccination cards and consent forms.
Police said such operations are still ongoing “because it has been found out that some unscrupulous individuals stole vaccines from the Ministry of health and are selling them on black market to the public.”
Recently, the Directorate of Crime Intelligence also arrested a top Ministry official for allegedly stealing a GeneXpert machine used to test covid-19 at Malaba border point.
The machine was stolen three days after it had been deployed at the border point.
With 50 per cent of donated 964,000 doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines already used up, pressure is mounting on the government to get in more doses even after India suspended exports.
President Museveni in a televised address to the nation on May 1, said: “We were getting the [AstraZeneca Covid-19] vaccines from India but now they are stuck, they don’t have the vaccines. But right now, we are going to get the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) one [vaccines], and also [vaccines] from Cuba.”
The Health ministry a few weeks ago was quoted by local media as saying Ugandans, who already received the first jab, are due for a second inoculation to complete the dosage and further boost their immunity.