Winfried Stöcker, a 74-year-old billionaire and owner of Lübeck airport, where the shots were administered, faces charges of violating Germany’s medicines laws, along with the managing director of the airport and two other retired physicians, aged 80 and 81, according to a report on the NDR news station.
He could also face further charges for running an unlicensed vaccination campaign, after a police raid on Saturday shut down the illegal operation.
Stöcker has become a legendary maverick among Germany’s large vaccine-hesitancy movement that has been held responsible for the country’s comparatively low 67 per cent vaccination rate, despite surging infection rates in recent weeks.
He said he developed his vaccine, which he calls Lubecavax, in less than a half an hour in April 2020. But he said he did not want to spend two years or more trying to win approval from public health regulatory authorities for the vaccine that he said is similar to inoculations used against tetanus with similar inactive pathogen cells to activate the body’s immune system.
“I was told that it would take two years to get approval but that was too long for me,” he said after the Saturday raid.
“We have to act before that in order to make a contribution to global health. We advised doctors to buy the compounds for the vaccine – there’s a source for it – and then put it together themselves and administer it to the patients.”
Stöcker says he developed the vaccine, which he claims is 97 per cent effective, by testing it on himself, his family and 50 staff members. He told Bild newspaper in an interview on Monday that 600 people were at the airport waiting for the inoculation on Saturday when the police raid ended the session. The newspaper said 107 had received a shot.
“Two physicians were conducting the vaccinations,” Stöcker said. “Doctors have the right to put ingredients together if they believe it can help people. We have a responsibility to patients, not to the state. But the police stopped everything. There were 600 people waiting outside for it.”
Stöcker, who accumulated his wealth from a €1.3bn sale of his laboratory equipment supplier company Euroimmun in 2019, also said that 20,000 had received his unlicensed vaccine and 2,000 of those are under observation but none had suffered from any serious side effects.
He said that just 10 of the 20,000 had suffered from breakthrough Covid-19 infections.
Stöcker has faced criticism from German health experts for failing to license his vaccine with regulators. He also did not present any information on approval, study protocol and preclinical validation before vaccinating himself and others.
"When vaccine specialists around the world are working at full throttle on vaccines, you have to be very confident to believe that you, as an individual, can still make a difference,” said Karl Lauterbach, a physician and epidemic expert who may be Germany’s next health minister.
“And when the vaccination is carried out without regulatory approval, it’s highly problematic. It raises all sorts of legal and ethical questions."