Police investigations into the 53-year-old cardiologist in Larnaca suspected of issuing fake vaccination certificates are at an advanced stage, police said on Thursday amid reports a second of his patients had died of coronavirus.
Police spokesman Christos Andreou told the Cyprus Mail that developments are expected in the next few days, while he did not rule out calling the doctor in again for additional statements.
Investigations were launched after a member the public filed a complaint with Larnaca CID on August 6 that his son, who was hospitalised in serious condition with Covid-19, had claimed to have a vaccination certificate even though he was never vaccinated.
They are investigating whether the doctor issued vaccination certificates without actually administering a vaccine.
“We have contacted everyone on the list of people who received the vaccine from the doctor. Some came voluntarily for blood tests, while others refused. However, we cannot force anyone to have a test,” he noted.
The 53-year-old doctor appeared before Larnaca District Court on August 7, which issued a remand order for seven days. He has since been released as police inquiries continue.
By mid August, 27 statements had been received from family members and friends of two hospitalised patients, as well as from nursing staff and ICU doctors of Famagusta and Nicosia Hospitals and the Cyprus Medical Association.
Reports said that 47 people from a list of 102 patients who had been registered as having been vaccinated by the suspect were questioned while a court order was obtained to access his banking data.
Of the 102, it is understood that 20 patients had initially registered with other Gesy personal doctors but changed and registered with the suspect after the vaccination programme was launched. According to the same reports, soon after they appeared in the records to have been vaccinated by the doctor.
The Cyprus Institute of Genetics and Neurology has carried out blood tests on 14 people who voluntarily accepted to have a test in order to determine whether they were vaccinated or not.
Andreou said none of the doctor’s patients admitted they knew that they had received a fake vaccination certificate.
Authorities are waiting for the tests’ results to see if the doctor’s patients have been truly vaccinated.
At the same time, a clinical lab technician who spoke to the Cyprus Mail said it is difficult to verify beyond any doubt that no one had received the jab.
“There is always a small chance that a person who has had the vaccine will not develop antibodies. Given this small possibility, it is not easy to ascertain with confidence whether the vaccine was fake,” he said
“On the other hand, even if someone developed antibodies, this does not necessarily confirm that they have received the vaccine. They may have been ill and did not know it.”
Earlier, President of CyMA Petros Agathangelou told CyBC that it is unacceptable for patients to die due to possible criminal activity of doctors.
“A few doctors may be responsible for these human losses. CyMA will stand up against anyone who is responsible for these deaths. We are cooperating with the police in the investigations,” he said.
“When this process is completed then a decision will be taken on whether to refer the doctor to the disciplinary council of our association, which is a separate judicial body,” he added.
Agathangelou said that the sentences should be more severe for the offenders, commenting that those who have committed such illegal acts should be in prison.
He also commented on doctors who give their own prescriptions to patients with coronavirus, advising them not to go to the hospital. “The public should only follow the advice of the specialised scientific community,” he concluded.