An alleged anti-vax nurse in Germany is suspected of injecting thousands of people with a shot of saline rather than a COVID-19 vaccine.
A police investigation found that a Red Cross nurse likely gave unsuspecting Germans a salt solution in their arms instead of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. The imposter vaccinations are believed to have occurred between March and April in Friesland, a rural district in northern Germany.
Health authorities in Lower Saxony said the shot-blocking nurse had access to the vaccines because she was "responsible for the preparation of vaccines and the preparation of syringes during her working hours in the vaccination center." The nurse was reportedly fired immediately.
Police investigator Peter Beer said that based on witness statements there was "a reasonable suspicion of danger."
Officials note the saline solution is harmless, but are urging anyone who potentially received a COVID-19 vaccine at the Roffhausen Vaccination Center during that period to get vaccinated again.
"I'm totally shocked by the incident," Sven Ambrosy, a district administrator of Friesland, wrote on Facebook. "The district of Friesland will do everything possible to ensure that the affected people receive their vaccination protection as soon as possible."
The motive of the nurse was not immediately known, but police investigators noted the unnamed medical worker voiced skeptical views about the coronavirus vaccines on social media, Reuters reported.
"Since she remains silent with police, we do not know whether and to what extent she was manipulated during this period," said Claudia Schröder, the deputy head of the Lower Saxony coronavirus team, according to the New Zealand Herald.
It was not immediately known if the suspect had been arrested or charged in the case. Hamburg-based public radio and television broadcaster NDR reported that the case had been designated to a special unit that investigates politically motivated crimes.
A similar situation happened in India, where about 2,500 people were given fake COVID-19 shots in June, CNN reported. During at least 12 fraudulent vaccination drives near Mumbai, people were injected with salt water instead of the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine-takers were given fake certificates.
People were charged for the fake coronavirus jabs, which enabled the organizers to pocket up to $28,000. Authorities arrested 14 people on suspicion of cheating, attempts at culpable homicide, criminal conspiracy, and other charges.