German police probe nurse who used ‘saline solution in place of’ BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine

A nurse in Germany was under investigation Sunday after she admitted to swapping the coronavirus vaccine for a saline solution in six cases because she wanted to cover up that she had dropped a vial of BionTech/Pfizer.

German police probe nurse who used 'saline solution in place of' BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine
The vaccination centre in Friesland. Photo: DPA

Authorities are now urgently asking 200 people who were inoculated at the German Red Cross vaccination centre in Friesland last Wednesday to come forward to be tested for antibodies to determine which six people missed out on the vaccine.

Police in Wilhelmshaven/Friesland in northern Germany said in a statement they had opened a probe into possible “bodily harm” by the nurse, while stressing that the saline solution did not pose a health risk to those affected.

It is standard practice for the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine to be diluted with saline before it is administered, and it was the nurse’s role to prepare the jabs when she accidentally dropped one of the little bottles, wasting its contents.

READ ALSO: Can I get the AstraZeneca vaccine in Germany if I’m not on the priority list?

She confessed her action to a colleague, who raised the alarm on Saturday.

“The woman said the reason for her action was to avoid having to inform anyone about the dropped vial,” the statement said.

The local district has set up a hotline for people who were vaccinated on the day of the incident to come forward so they can be tested.

“I am deeply shocked by the incident,” said Friesland district administrator Sven Ambrosy, adding that authorities have now introduced a “four eyes” procedure at the vaccination centre to make sure no one is left alone with the vials.

Member comments

  1. This unfortunate incident is such a great way to summarize what I have found it to be like to work in Germany. When somone makes a mistake they try to hide it and not own up to it. Then the organization rather than stressing personal accountability and ensuring you do the right thing just increases bueracracy demonstrating lack of trust in employees ability to (now) do the right thing.
    Perfect demonstration of toxic work culture that incentivises people to hide mistakes.

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Major milestone: more than 40 million Germans vaccinated against Covid

More than 40 million people in Germany have received at least one vaccination against the coronavirus so far, while a quarter of the population are fully inoculated, new government data shows.

Major milestone: more than 40 million Germans vaccinated against Covid
A vaccine is prepared in Munich. credit: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

Cracking the 40 million mark means that 48.1 percent of the total population has now received at least a first jab against the disease, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) that was released on Saturday.

Some 21.35 million people have received both jabs while 60.1 million vaccine doses have been administered in Germany so far.

This week, for the first time, the million mark in daily vaccinations was cracked on three days, Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) wrote on Twitter. According to the RKI, about two-thirds of all vaccinations have been administered in vaccination centres, and one-third in doctors’ offices.

Among the states, Bremen continues to record the highest proportion of people with first-time vaccinations at 52.9 percent, with Saxony bringing up the rear at 43.0 percent.

Meanwhile Saarland has the highest proportion of residents with full coverage, at 30.4 percent, and has also administered the most vaccine doses per resident to date.

While the first five months of the vaccine programme were based on a priority list, since Monday everyone resident in the country can register themselves for a vaccine appointment.

Case rate continues to fall

Health authorities reported 1,911 new infections to the RKI on Saturday morning. A week ago that figure stood at 2,294 new infections. The seven-day incidence dropped lightly to 18.3 from 18.6 cases per 100,000 people on Friday.

Nationwide, 129 new deaths were recorded within 24 hours on Saturday.

Opposition plans inquiry into pandemic failures

Wolfgang Kubicki, deputy leader of the Free Democrats, has said his party will push for a Bundestag inquiry into the pandemic response after September’s national election.

“There needs to be a parliamentary review of this after the election,” Kubicki said on Saturday at a party convention. “That was the announcement of a committee of inquiry,” he confirmed when asked for clarification by a journalist.

Kubicki criticized, among other things, the purchase of “unfit masks” by Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU). He said that the committee would also look into controversial aspects of the pandemic response including the government’s testing strategy and the disputes over whether intensive care units reached breaking point.

SEE ALSO: 7 things the Covid-19 crisis has taught us about Germany