A nurse in Germany was arrested this week for allegedly giving thousands of people saline shots instead of COVID-19 vaccines.
“Today I have the sad duty to inform around 8,600 people … that it cannot be ruled out they may have received a saline solution instead of their vaccination at their vaccination appointment. For peace of mind we would recommend people get an additional vaccination,” said the district administrator of Friesland, Sven Ambrosy, in a statement, according to a German-to-English translation.
The nurse, who was not named, allegedly replaced the vaccines between March and April 2021 at the Roffhausen immunization center in the city, Ambrosy added.
“I’m totally shocked by the incident. The district of Friesland will do everything possible to ensure that the affected people receive their vaccination protection as soon as possible,” he said.
And the individual, health officials in the Lower Saxony region said, was able to replace the vials because they were “responsible for the preparation of vaccines and the preparation of syringes during her working hours in the vaccination center.”
All Germans who got vaccines at the Roffhausen center between March 5 and April 20 need to come forward and receive another dose, officials said in a statement. They noted that the saline solution has no adverse health effects.
“In this situation, it is important that all those who may be affected are offered catch-up vaccinations,” said Matthias Pulz, president of the Lower Saxony State Health Office, according to a statement on Tuesday. “This is the only way to ensure complete vaccination protection. Even if persons have already been correctly vaccinated twice,” he added.
It’s not clear if the nurse or any other individuals were arrested and charged over the incident.
And as the nurse has not been publicly named and no other details have been provided, the possible motivation isn’t clear.
“The investigations of the police have shown the person (involved) was motivated to oppose the vaccination … 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 COVID-19 team, according to reports.
In India last month, a similar situation unfolded in Mumbai after about 14 people were arrested by Indian police for allegedly giving fake COVID-19 vaccines that were filled with saline.
About 2,500 people were affected, according to authorities, who said the organizers charged between $12 and $17 for each COVID-19 shot.
“We have arrested doctors,” Mumbai police official Vishal Thakur told reporters. “They were using a hospital which was producing the fake certificates, vials, syringes.”