After possible vaccinations with saline solutions in the district of Friesland, more than 2000 people have already registered for follow-up vaccinations, according to the Lower Saxony Ministry of Health. On Tuesday, it had become known that thousands of people - and thus far more than initially assumed - might not have vaccination protection against Covid-19 because a nurse is said to have drawn up syringes with a saline solution instead of vaccine.
Possibly affected are 8557 people who were vaccinated between March 5 and April 20, according to the county.
"The citizens are reacting very prudently," a spokeswoman for the ministry said Wednesday in Hanover. There were no findings on whether serious illnesses with Covid-19 had occurred as a result of saline injections, she said. "These are reporting data that are not superimposed here - also for data protection reasons," the spokeswoman explained.
It had already become known on April 21 that the suspected employee had not injected six people with the Biontech agent intended for them. The scandal continued to grow. Friesland's District Administrator Sven Ambrosy (SPD) said on Tuesday in Jever. The NDR had reported on it first.
Make up missing vaccinations as soon as possible
Affected individuals will now be contacted by the county to make up any missing vaccinations, Ambrosy said. In addition, a toll-free telephone number is switched.
The missing vaccinations should now be made up as soon as possible. "We need to prevent the damage from these people, even though we don't know how many people are really affected," Ambrosy said.
Even in the unlikely event that two vaccinations are already available after all, further vaccinations are medically safe after consultation with the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and the Standing Commission on Vaccination (STIKO), said Matthias Pulz, president of the Lower Saxony state health office. However, the side effects could then be the same as with a second vaccination - "perhaps a little more pronounced," Pulz said. "But they are on the spot then expected side effects and not unusual complications."
People over 70 years of age are said to be particularly affected. However, employees of mobile care services, hospice workers, educators or doctors have also been vaccinated during the period, said Corona deputy crisis staff manager Claudia Schröder. According to her, they will be informed by mail or e-mail. At the same time, she encouraged everyone to accept an offer to be revaccinated. "Around 8500 people are now faced with the question: 'Should I get re-vaccinated?' We can only absolutely advise that."
Action may have been politically motivated
It was originally assumed that the woman had wanted to cover up the fact that she had dropped vials. In the meantime, however, the police found out that the woman had shared texts critical of vaccination on social media. Now, the specialized police department for politically motivated crime has taken over the investigation.
This was stated by the deputy head of the police inspection Wilhelmshaven/Friesland, Peter Beer, at a press conference. In addition, the woman had distributed corona-critical information via a chat, Beer said. "But that's all we have found so far in the investigation." The woman remains silent about what happened, according to police.
The vaccination protection of the presumed affected persons was checked with antibody tests. These can reveal if something else was injected instead of the vaccine, because if so, antibodies to the spike protein will not develop.
"If these people only got saline, they wouldn't have antibodies either, unless they were infected," immunologist Carsten Watzl, secretary general of the German Society for Immunology, told the Daily Mirror in this regard.
Antibody tests should determine vaccination status
However, if only one of the two vaccinations had been done with saline and the other contained the vaccine, the matter becomes more complicated. "Because then the antibody levels would be there in most, but just lower."
Watzl says there is a great need for meaningful tests of vaccination status for pandemic control and especially for the current heated discussion about booster vaccinations for those who have been fully vaccinated. "Medically, it would be nice to be able to check first whether the titer - the amount - of antibodies has dropped so much that a booster is even necessary before deciding on a booster vaccination."
Image by Wilfried Pohnke