Austrian police investigate fraud at Vienna COVID vaccination centre

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Austrian authorities are investigating vaccination fraud at the country’s largest COVID-19 vaccination centre in Vienna after dozens of people received a vaccination certificate without actually getting a dose.

It is still unclear how much money was paid for these apparently purchased certificates, Austria’s police said.

The vaccination centre operator, Samariterbund, suspects between 30 and 100 cases of fraud.

“We found out at the beginning of December that vaccination fraud had taken place here. This was brought to our attention by the staff and was then confirmed when we checked various computer entries,” Stefanie Kurzweil, who works for Samariterbund, told Euronews.

However, it won’t be possible for the system to track which vaccinations actually took place and which did not.

Two employees have been fired and reported to the police.

“It seems obvious, of course, that in such a complex process as the validation of a vaccination certificate, other people were also involved,” Kurzweil added.

In response, security checks for staff have now been introduced and from now on the vaccination certificate will need to be validated at several points.

According to an investigation report by the Austria Press Agency, there are probably considerably more than two suspects.

People claim there were piles of empty vaccination cards and vaccine labels lying around, which were easy to steal.

Meanwhile, the police are focussing on one suspect.

“On 11 December, a 26-year-old Austrian woman in the vaccination street allegedly received some names by telephone, which she then entered into the vaccination register. These persons were probably not vaccinated. At least that is the suspicion at the moment,” Barbara Gass, of the Vienna police directorate, told Euronews.

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The young woman may now face up to one year in prison.

In the past weeks and months, Austria has improved its vaccination rate and reached the EU average of 70%, but now health authorities question whether there was also fraud in other vaccination centres and whether people who have a vaccination certificate actually got a dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

Watch the full report in the video player, above.

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