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Scandal in Germany: Nurse accused of swapping vaccines with saline

More than 8,000 people were hurt by a skeptical vaccination nurse

A nurse in Germany is suspected of replacing the COVID-19 vaccine with saline. Authorities estimate that about 8,600 people have been affected as a result.

Authorities have appealed to thousands of people in northern Germany to get another vaccination against the coronavirus after a police investigation found that a Red Cross nurse may have injected them with the saline solution.

According to The Guardian, the nurse is suspected of injecting people with saline instead of real doses of vaccine at a vaccination center in Friesland, a rural area near the North Sea coast, in early spring.

“I am completely shocked by this episode,” says Sven Ambrosi, a local councilman. Local officials on Tuesday appealed to the approximately 8,600 residents who may have been harmed by the nurse's actions to be vaccinated again.

Although the saline is harmless, most of the people vaccinated in Germany in March and April, when the switchover was suspected, are elderly and at high risk of contracting the coronavirus.

According to the radio broadcaster NDR, all of those affected are over the age of 70 and were vaccinated at a single location in Schortens-Roffhausen.

Anyone who was vaccinated at that location within the specified time period could receive another dose of the vaccine since authorities do not know exactly who or how many people received saline instead of the coronavirus drug in general.

When this situation arose in April, authorities used antibody tests on people they suspected had not received an actual dose of the vaccine to determine whether they had received it. But officials said that since the vaccination was administered months ago, the usefulness of the antibody tests would be questionable, NDR reported.

Police investigator Peter Bier, speaking earlier at a news conference covered by German media, said there was a “reasonable suspicion of danger” based on witness testimony.

The motive of the nurse, who was not named, is not entirely clear, but investigators said she had expressed skeptical opinions about vaccines in posts on social media.

It is unclear whether the suspect has been arrested or charged in the case, which NDR television reported has been referred to a special unit that investigates politically motivated crimes.

According to Reuters, about 57 percent of the German population is vaccinated against COVID-19.

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