Peru on Tuesday opened a probe into claims that some people who sat for a coronavirus vaccine were injected with nothing but air, raising suspicions of a possible black market for inoculations.
The health ministry said there had been three reported cases in which “apparently, the syringes to be used for vaccination did not contain a dose against Covid-19”, adding “an investigation has been initiated”.
The matter came to light when a person accompanying a nun to her vaccination appointment in Lima, and filmed it, realised the syringe being used was empty.
The companion objected, at which point the nurse loaded the dose of Pfizer vaccine.
Footage of the alleged incident was published on social media on Monday, followed by reports of another such incident elsewhere in the capital city.
The ministry said in a statement that surveillance and control measures were being stepped up, and any health professional found to have colluded in an alleged scheme to stash away vaccine doses for resale would be “severely punished”.
Peru, a country of 33 million people, has registered some 1.8 million coronavirus infections and more than 64,000 deaths.
Its vaccination campaign, using doses from drugmakers Sinopharm, Pfizer and AstraZeneca, has gotten off to a slow start, with about 2.2% of the population having received two doses to date.
The campaign is still on people older than 70.