Fifty people have received an unlicensed coronavirus vaccine at an airport in Germany owned by a businessman who claimed to have invented his own shot.
Police said they broke up the makeshift clinic after finding 150 people waiting for a vaccine in the terminal of Luebeck Airport, a minor airfield where no flights were running at the time.
The airport’s owner, wealthy scientist and right-wing political donor Winfried Stoecker, announced in February that his laboratory had developed its own vaccine against Covid-19.
Authorities did not identify the four men they suspect of running the airport vaccinations but German media reports said the product being used was developed by Mr Stoecker.
He has fought a long battle with authorities over the unapproved vaccine, which he said he had taken himself and given to his employees.
He claimed the drug, nicknamed Lubecavax, was 97 per cent effective and suggested it was safer than the licensed vaccines used in Germany. Ministers have bemoaned the number of vaccine sceptics in Germany, with 15 million adults still unprotected despite a fourth wave of the disease.
Vaccine regulators said they had offered to work with Mr Stoecker but informed him that unlicensed trials could be breaking the law. He insisted that his product was legal despite official complaints against him.
Mr Stoecker is a former army doctor who in 1999 became a professor at a university in Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus first surfaced in 2019.
As well as his laboratory, he owns an art nouveau department store in eastern Germany, which was used as a film set for The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Parliamentary documents show him as a donor to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), a party with many vaccine-sceptic supporters.
One of the party’s two leaders says she is not vaccinated against Covid-19, while the other refuses to answer.
Mr Stoecker bought the airport in Luebeck in 2016, taking over a terminal used for charter planes and a handful of short-haul commercial routes.
The runway was not being used when police arrived on Saturday, finding 80 people in front of the building and others waiting inside.
Vaccine samples and used syringes were seized from the airport, where 50 people were thought to have received the shot before police arrived.
The police, who suspect an offence against federal drugs laws, said they would be checking that vaccinations do not resume at the airport.