The man who tried to dodge Italy’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate using a fake arm is a dentist who claims the ridiculous ruse has “ruined” his life, according to reports.
Guido Russo, 57, had refused to get the jab before showing up Thursday at a vaccine center in Biella, where he used a silicone prosthetic during his ill-fated ploy to trick a nurse with the “well-made” fake arm, the Corriere della Sera newspaper reported.
“Go away, you have ruined my life,” a peeved Russo told reporters from the behind the door of a villa in Pettinengo. “Go away, I’ll call the carabinieri.”
Russo had told the nurse last week who uncovered his bogus arm that he found himself in a bind.
“I don’t want to get the vaccine, but I need the green pass to work,” he told the nurse, Filippa Bua, la Repubblica reported Sunday.
Russo is being probed for attempted fraud — and it’s not the first time the dentist has been investigated. In 2016, he and a dental technician were accused of practicing dentistry illegally in his Valle Mosso office, la Repubblica reported.
“An action like this would be serious for anyone, but it is even more serious because it offends our profession and our order,” Franco Ferrero, president of the Biella medical association, told the newspaper of Russo’s actions. “It is a lack of respect towards those who in these two years of pandemic have worked with self-denial and a spirit of service even at detriment to his own health.”
Bua said Russo, who called his fake arm a “stage costume,” insulted medical professionals with his hoax.
“I am incredulous and very stressed,” Bua told Corriere Della Sera. “In the last few weeks, everyone who shows up for the first dose of the vaccine, they are angry with the ‘system’ and feel obligated. My colleagues and I try to lower the level of tension by not giving our side to any provocation. But I’m really tired and just as sorry to see these people who do not understand how much the vaccine is essential to protect their health, and their loved ones.”
A disciplinary committee is investigating Russo’s actions, la Repubblica reported.
Vaccines for health workers had already been mandatory, but Italy’s “super green pass,” which requires proof of vaccination or recovery from the virus, takes effect Monday — just days before Russo tried to trick the nurse with his faux limb sold on Amazon for roughly $564.
Russo was unable to work “for some time” due to his refusal to get vaccinated, and he’ll now have no choice in the matter after being suspended while he’s investigated for fraud, Corriere della Sera reported.
A sign on Russo’s office indicated he had no intention of checking if his patients had gotten vaccinated, saying it was “exclusively voluntary” to show their green passes.