Covid-19 Update: Fraudsters vaccinate 800 Ugandans with water, cameras capture 3 Nigerians executing $1.4m scam


With the introduction of the Delta variant into Nigeria, Covid-19 cases have continued to rise. Daily recorded cases have increased to the range of 200 and above. Within the last 7 days, 1,048 people tested positive for the virus. This rise in cases has led to health authorities raising an alarm amid a scramble for vaccines.

On the vaccine front, South Africa has signed a deal to manufacture the Pfizer/BioNTech doses. Here are the other interesting news items that unfolded during the week.

ATM camera captures 3 Nigerians carrying out Covid-19 scam 

3 Nigerians have been caught on camera while committing covid-19 scams at Automated Teller Machines in the USA. The trio comprises Quazeem Owolabi Adeyinka, 20; Ayodeji Jonathan Sangode, 22; and Olamide Yusuf Bakare.

They filed for unemployment benefits at least 200 times from Maryland, North Carolina, California and Arizona. These states use the Bank of America (BofA) to distribute their Unemployment Insurance (UI) funds. Therefore, they were able to track the benefits that were paid to the scammers.

Source: Nigeria Abroad

The bank records show that 175 prepaid cards that are worth more than $1.4 million (about N580 million) in total, were sent to the addresses of the trio. They used two addresses in Hyattsville, Maryland.

Besides the 4 states earlier mentioned, they also applied for fraudulent unemployment benefits from the States of Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Texas, Washington, West Virginia and Hawaii. The trio is being prosecuted in a California court

Nigeria places 6 states on red alert

As cases continue to rise, the federal government has placed 6 states on Red Alert. The states are Lagos, Oyo, Rivers, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau and the FCT. 

The announcement was made by the Chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha. He said that the nation was showing “worrisome early signs of the third wave of the pandemic.”

In the states where the red alert has been declared, the authorities can restrict gatherings and celebrations to curb the spread of the virus. The PSC boss also admonished the states that are not on the red alert to heighten their state of preparedness and enforce all the Covid-19 protocols.  

South Africa to manufacture Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

As more African countries, including Nigeria, get left behind in the race to achieve herd immunity, Pfizer and BioNTech have partnered with a South African company to manufacture the vaccines on the continent.

Under the agreement, Cape Town-based Biovac will be a part of the manufacturing process and will handle the last step which is known as the “fill and finish”, according to Pfizer/BioNTech. The deal will take some time to get off the ground, however, and the first doses are not expected before 2022.

For now, the technical transfer, on-site development and equipment installation activities will begin immediately. Once the Biovac vaccine plant starts producing, it will be able to make as much as 100 million doses annually for Africa’s 55 countries.

NAFDAC warns against consuming excessive onions and garlic

The National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has made its stance known on the excessive eating of onions and garlic as prevention against Covid-19. The agency’s Director-General, Prof Moji Adeyeye, warned that overconsumption of those foods would lead to foul breathe which can be repulsive.

Prof Moji Adeyeye

She also mentioned that no herbal medicine has been approved for the cure of the virus. Her statement reads in part, “If it is not documented, it cannot be recognized by NAFDAC for COVID-19. They (traditional medicines) work on our cells to keep people healthier, but not to cure COVID-19.”

The DG also said that there is no traditional drug for the virus that has undergone clinical trial the right way. However, a pharmacognosist and advocate of traditional medicine, Professor Iwu, said that the DG’s submission is inaccurate.

He told the Guardian that a certain IHP Detox Herbal Tea has received clinical trial authorisation since August 2020 and is currently undergoing trial at the College of Medicine, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi Araba, Lagos.

Remarking on the DG’s stance on onions and garlic, Iwu said, “It is also unimaginable that the DG would have authorised his (her) statement that condemned the use of onions solely based on its repugnant smell. It is indeed unfortunate that some people believe that the only way to remain relevant is to denigrate anything Nigerian.”

Fraudsters inject 800 Ugandans with fake covid-19 shots

At a time when Africa is behind other continents in getting vaccines for their citizens, fraudsters have found a way to exploit the situation by injecting people with water instead of the vaccine.

About 800 people in Uganda requested vaccine shots and were given fake shots containing water instead. 2 nurses have been arrested by the Police, Health Ministry officials, and the State House Health Monitoring Unit. The nurses and a doctor, who is on the run, injected people with fake shots and issued fake certificates to them.

At a news conference, the Head of the health unit, Dr Wallen Naamara, mentioned that the network duped a lot of people and companies. He said, “It is unfortunate that some medical workers are administering fake COVID-19 jabs to unsuspecting people. We did undercover work and arrested two nurses in the act,” she said.

The companies that were duped paid 200,000 Uganda shillings ($54) for the vaccination of each of their workers. The African country received 964,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in March, and an additional 175,200 doses arrived in June. 800,000 of its citizens have been vaccinated so far while it continues to source for more doses.

Fully vaccinated white house staff tests positive for COVID-19

Despite being fully vaccinated, staff of the White House alongside a senior communications aide to House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi have tested positive for the Covid-19. This was announced by a White House official on Tuesday.

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, speaks at an event to raise awareness of the Child Tax Credit, in Los Angeles, California on July 15, 2021. – Payments from the Child Tax Credit are being disbursed starting July 15. (Photo by Frederic J. Brown / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

The aide got diagnosed after coming into contact with members of the Texas Legislature last week, according to the White House official, Drew Hammill.

There have been other cases, known as breakthrough cases, of fully vaccinated persons being infected with the virus. This cancels the notion that being vaccinated prevents people from contracting variants of the Covid-19 and implies that everyone should observe the preventive protocols for the virus whether or not they are vaccinated.

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