Rio de Janeiro's police launched an investigation into reports that doses of the coronavirus vaccine may have been diverted after images emerged of healthcare workers sticking needles into elderly people without injecting them.
Police appealed to local government and health officials on Wednesday to help understand what happened to the doses, which were supposed to be destinated for high-risk groups.
At least three cases have been reported in the state of what local media are calling shots of air, in which health workers administered fake inoculations from empty syringes.
Videos on social media show healthcare workers inserting the needle into people's arms with the syringe already fully compressed.
The personnel involved have been dismissed and the elderly people who received the fake shots were later vaccinated, Rio's state nursing council, known as Coren-RJ, said in a note.
However, the state of Rio suspended vaccination against the coronavirus on Tuesday, after Brazil had problems accessing new doses of COVID-19 vaccine and the implements used for local manufacture.
”I received the news that no new doses arrived. We will have to interrupt our campaign tomorrow (Tuesday), Mayor Eduardo Paes wrote last Monday on Twitter.
Rio is considering using vaccines reserved for second doses, but this would depend on ensuring that the city receives new doses by the first week of March, which remains uncertain.
Brazil began vaccinating in mid-January and since then has had problems accessing new doses and the implements used for local manufacture.
If police find that vaccines were diverted and the shots of air” are real, those involved could be prosecuted for embezzlement, which carries a potential sentence of up to 12 years in jail.
With information from Reuters