Moon accused of faking his Covid jab
Daegu police on Wednesday opened an investigation into claims circulating online that President Moon Jae-in's vaccine was secretly switched –– and he did not get the AstraZeneca jab.
On Tuesday, Moon and First Lady Kim Jung-sook became the first Koreans over 65 to be vaccinated for Covid-19. The first couple got their shots at a public health center in Jongno, central Seoul, near the Blue House, ahead of the president's trip to Britain for a Group of Seven summit in June.
A video of the president and first lady being administered the AstraZeneca vaccine was part of the government’s attempt to calm public fears over the vaccine’s safety, following two local reports of blood clots arising in patients who received AstraZeneca shots.
The footage of the president getting his first shot are at the center of the claims.
In the video, a nurse attending to the president extracts the vaccine into a syringe and does something with it behind a partition before coming back into view to administer it into the president’s upper left arm.
Just before injecting the vaccine, the syringe has a cap on. But before she went behind the partition, it did not.
The nurse applies an alcohol swab to the injection site before removing the cap to give the president his jab.
Claims that the president received a different injection focused on the cap on the syringe. Claims spreading online say this proves that it was switched behind the partition.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) explained that the cap on the syringe was replaced because the process was prolonged due to the filming going on.
“Under normal conditions, the medical practitioner is seated and administers the medication via syringe immediately,” said Go Jae-yeong, chief of the KDCA’s emergency communication team.
“However, because time was needed to document the scene on camera, the nurse replaced the cap to prevent contamination after extracting the vaccine. She took off the cap right before injecting it.”
The KDCA requested an investigation by Daegu police because the claims online are suspected of coming from the right-wing community forum Ilgan Best –– better known by its abbreviation Ilbe –– which is headquartered in Daegu.
The claims about the vaccine swap have spread quickly through social media and on YouTube.
“We determined that the risk of panic and confusion was high in this case as the idea that the syringe containing the vaccine was swapped with another needle circulated rapidly online,” Go said.
“As such, we requested a police investigation into the claims.”
The KDCA added that a syringe cap can be replaced depending on the circumstances and judgement of the medical practitioner.
“In cases where the medical practitioner needs to perform other tasks [after extracting medication into a syringe], they have to prevent the needle from becoming contaminated,” said Hong Jeong-ik, chief of vaccine distribution planning at the KDCA.
“There is no fixed rule about replacing the cap. A licensed medical practitioner will choose to operate in a way that minimizes the risk of contamination.”
Ahead of the president’s first shot on Tuesday, the Korea Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Monday found no link between AstraZeneca shots and the forming of blood clots –– just before the country began inoculating people 65 and older at nursing homes.
“The safety and effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine has been reconfirmed internationally,” said Moon in a meeting with aides at the Blue House Monday, noting most European countries have resumed AstraZeneca shots after concerns over blood clots.
BY MICHAEL LEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]