Officials in Germany say around 9,000 people who thought they received COVID vaccines earlier this year may not be as protected as they think. Investigators say a nurse is believed to have injected an unknown number of patients with a salt solution instead of the vaccine at a clinic in March and April, reports Reuters. The clinic was in the mostly rural district of Friesland and authorities say those affected are all either people over 70 or health workers. The switch was first discovered in late April, but the nurse claimed she had injected only six people with the saline solution instead of the vaccine because she had dropped a vial of vaccine.
Police, however, say witness statements suggested that the nurse had made the switch on other occasions—and investigators found that the woman had shared anti-vaccine sentiments on social media. Authorities say too much time has elapsed for antibody tests to reliably tell whether a person is unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated. "It may be that only every third syringe was manipulated, it may be that there are no further cases," said crisis team leader Heiger Scholz, per NDR. "Unfortunately, the woman is not cooperative with the police, she is silent." The case is now being investigated by a commissioner specializing in politically motivated crime. Authorities say the saline solution itself was harmless. It's not clear whether any of the people vaccinated at the clinic later died from COVID. (Read more coronavirus stories.)