Italian who tried to evade vaccine using prosthetic arm now claims he's received his shot

·2 min read

A man protesting vaccination rules who made global headlines last week by wearing a fake arm to a vaccination center in Italy has now had his shot for real, he said.

The dentist, who has been named as Guido Russo by the Associated Press, told an Italian talk show Wednesday night that after the furor, he had received a vaccine against the coronavirus "because the system obliged me to," he said.

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There has been no official confirmation, however.

Russo raised eyebrows last week when he tried to fool health workers into administering a coronavirus shot into a prosthetic arm, apparently in the hope of obtaining a covid-19 health certificate or green pass, which grants freedoms in Italy to the vaccinated - ahead of social restrictions that came into force on Monday.

The incident took place in Biella, near Turin in northern Italy, and led the president of the Piedmont region, Alberto Cirio, to decry the attempt.

"The incident would border on the ridiculous, were it not for the fact that we are talking about an extremely serious act," Cirio said. He added that Russo had been reported to police and could face criminal charges.

Russo insisted during the interview that he had not been trying to defraud the government or health authorities but that he had wanted to make a personal protest over vaccine mandates.

In a seemingly dramatic change of heart he also said he was not anti-vaccination and championed the vaccine.

"I think at this point the vaccine is the only weapon we have against this terrible disease, but there should be a freedom of choice," he added.

The nurse who sought to administer his shot last Thursday, Filippa Bua, told Italian newspapers over the weekend that she had noticed something was awry, describing how the color and feel of the arm had raised her suspicion.

"When I uncovered the arm, I felt skin that was cold and gummy, and the color was too light," Bua told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. She said she initially believed the man was an amputee and had mistakenly offered the wrong arm to her, before she realized he was trying to avoid the vaccination by using a prosthetic.

The Italian news agency ANSA has previously reported that Russo had already been suspended from his job for refusing to get vaccinated. Italy was one of the first countries in the world to make coronavirus vaccines mandatory for all health workers.

It was also one of the hardest-hit European countries at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. More than 134,000 people in Italy have died of covid-19 so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. About 73% of Italy's population is fully vaccinated, according to the Hopkins data.

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