German authorities are investigating a resident nurse who is accused of replacing coronavirus vaccines with a saline solution which were used to inject up to 8,600 people scheduled to receive the treatment.
Peter Beer, a police investigator, said that based on witness testimony, there was a "reasonable suspicion" that the medical professional replaced the COVID-19 vaccines with a placebo. Sven Ambrosy, a local councilor, said he was appalled by the nurse's alleged act of misconduct, noting it had potentially occured in March and April in Friesland located in northern Germany.
Using False COVID-19 Vaccines
Authorities said that suspect was a Red Cross nurse and that the motive for the false shots was still unknown. However, they noted that there have been previous cases of the individual sharing anti-vax views on social media platforms.
While officials said that saline injections posed no direct threat to the lives of the affected individuals, they may have disproportionately involved elderly people. These people are at greater risk due to being more likely to transmit the coronavirus vaccine, Fox News reported.
German authorities are now urging thousands of residents to get a second shot in order to prevent casualties from the false infections. In a Tuesday post on Facebook, Ambrosy said that the district of Friesland would do everything in its power to ensure the safety of the affected people and that they get the protection they need as soon as possible.
The nurse confessed to replacing at least six COVID-19 vaccines with the saline solution, and authorities believe she may have done the same to other patients throughout the pandemic. The suspect reportedly worked in a small German inoculation center for seven weeks, where she inoculated thousands of patients.
During a Tuesday news conference, Heiger Scholz, the leader of the Lower Saxony coronavirus task force, said the nurses' act was "diabolical." Police authorities also revealed that the suspect shared posts online where she criticized the government for its pandemic response programs, the New York Times reported.
Responsibility of Preparation
Officials did not reveal whether or not they would be charging the nurse with any crimes related to her act. One lawyer who is representing the nurse said during an interview that the suspect had only switched one vial of COVID-19 vaccine with saline.
As authorities were unsure which vials were changed with saline during the April inoculations, they invited 117 people for antibody tests. Officials also offered additional vaccine shots to 80 more people who previously went to the vaccination center for second doses.
Lower Saxony health authorities said the suspect was able to exchange the vaccines for saline because she had the responsibility of preparing vaccines and syringes during work hours. In a Thursday statement, Matthias Pulz, president of the Lower Saxony State Health Office, said it was crucial that the region provide those who could have received false vaccine shots another opportunity to get protection from the coronavirus. He said that this was the only sure way to keep the people's safety amid the pandemic, CNN reported.