A nurse in Germany has been accused of giving at least 8,600 people saline solution when she was supposed to be administering the covid-19 vaccine, according to a report from the Guardian. The nurse reportedly posted anti-vaccine conspiracy theories on social media around the same time she was working for the Red Cross in March and April of this year.
The fake vaccine recipients are from the northern German district of Friesland and primarily elderly, a segment of the population which is most at risk of serious disease and death from covid-19.
Saline solution, which amounts to little more than salt water, isn’t harmful when injected in small doses, but being unvaccinated during a pandemic carries a large number of risks. Health officials are urging anyone who got vaccinated at the Roffhausen Vaccination Center to get vaccinated again.
According to some reports, the nurse is refusing to cooperate with police, which makes it even more difficult to determine how widespread her alleged deception was occurring.
“Since she remains silent with police, we do not know whether and to what extent she was manipulated during this period,” Claudia Schröder, a local public health official in Germany, said according to the New Zealand Herald.
The unnamed nurse has admitted to just six cases of tampering with the vaccines she was supposed to be giving up, but authorities believe it’s many more.
From the Washington Post:
The nurse, who has not been publicly identified, had initially admitted to giving six patients shots of saline solution after suspicions were raised in April. She said she did so to cover up the fact that she had dropped a vial of the Pfizer vaccine, German television channel NDR reported.
However, since antibody testing was carried out, a much wider group of people is suspected to have been affected. Police have also discovered that the woman, who worked with the Red Cross, had shared vaccine-skeptical posts on social media, NDR said.
The nurse reportedly posted anti-vaccine content to WhatsApp right around the time when she was working at the vaccination center.
“We then found three or four of her WhatsApp chats from April 21, right before the act, so we suspect that she did it,” Wilhelmshaven police officer Peter Beer told Euronews.
It’s not clear if the nurse has been arrested or charged with any crime.
Germany has fully vaccinated 55.61% of its population against covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University, the 23rd best rate in the world. But there are still large pockets of anti-vaccine activists in Germany who stage protests against any restrictions put in place to mitigate spread of the virus. The U.S. has vaccinated 50.91% of its population, putting it at 30th in the world.
Germany has announced a handful of new measures this week in an effort to get more people vaccinated. The government will stop offering free rapid covid-19 tests on October 11, forcing the unvaccinated to pay for their own tests out of pocket. But who knows how that’s going to work out.