Peru to investigate ’empty syringes’ vaccination scandal

LIMA, Peru — Peru’s Health Ministry said Tuesday it is investigating nurses who are accused of trying to inoculate patients with empty syringes during the country’s coronavirus vaccination campaign.

The ministry said the three known cases were reported in the capital during a campaign that began in March to apply more than 2 million shots.

“These three cases are fully identified, both the people and the places,” said Health Ministry spokesman Arturo Granados. He declined to identify the nurses involved and said the results of an investigation would be released Thursday.

Authorities haven’t provided a motive for the allegedly flawed vaccinations, though President Francisco Sagasti said Tuesday that it “is something very worrisome and could even be criminal in some cases.”

Miguel Olave told the Peruvian newspaper El Comercio that his mother, Margarita Moreno, was vaccinated April 30 in a Lima sports center and they noticed the nurse at first tried to inoculate her with an empty syringe. After they objected the nurse switched the syringe for one with vaccine in it.

The empty syringes cases follow another scandal in Peru that blew up after it was revealed that almost 500 privileged people were secretly vaccinated, including then President Martín Vizcarra, his wife and the diplomatic representative of Pope Francis in Peru, Nicola Girasoli.

Peru so far has vaccinated only about 2% of its population, including those over 80 years of age, doctors and health personnel who treated COVID-19 patients. Delays in the application of vaccines has led many wealthy or powerful Peruvians to travel to the United States to receive vaccines.