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Pharmacist intentionally ruined COVID-19 vaccines because he believed 'they were unsafe,' prosecutor says


Wisconsin man was arrested for allegedly leaving more than 500 doses out at room temperature to spoil

Image source: The Associated Press video screenshot

A Wisconsin pharmacist arrested last week for allegedly ruining more than 500 doses of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine has confessed to intentionally ruining the vials, according to authorities, who say the man admitted that he sabotaged the vaccine because he believed the inoculations "were unsafe."

What are the details?

Steven Brandenburg, 46, stands accused of removing 57 vials of the vaccine — each containing enough to treat 10 people — from refrigeration and leaving them at room temperature overnight on Dec. 24 and 25 at Advocate Aurora Health in Grafton, where he worked. Moderna's vaccine must be kept at between 36 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit to maintain its effectiveness.

Brandenburg was terminated by the hospital after he allegedly confessed to his employer that his actions were not accidental, and the incident is now being investigated by the Grafton Police Department, the FBI, and the Food and Drug Administration. Brandenburg had initially said that he left the vaccines out of refrigeration by accident.

During the suspect's court hearing on Monday, it was revealed that Brandenburg also told investigators the motive behind his actions.

According to The Daily Mail, Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol told the court of Brandenburg, "He'd formed this belief they were unsafe."

Gerol reiterated that Brandenburg gave "a full confession that he had done exactly this. His intent was to destroy the medication. He did the things that he was accused of."

ABC News reported:

The 46-year-old pharmacist, who's been licensed since 1997, was "an admitted conspiracy theorist," and told investigators he believed the vaccine "was not safe for people and could harm them and change their DNA," Det. Sgt. Eric Sutherland said in the probable cause statement.

The outlet also reported that:

There is no evidence to suggest that the COVID-19 vaccine alters people's DNA. Some companies, such as Moderna and Pfizer, use mRNA technology that introduces a small part of the virus' genetic code to teach the body how to fight off the real virus. But the vaccine doesn't change the person's DNA in any way, according to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

What else?

During a press conference, Aurora Health Care Medical Group President Dr. Jeff Bahr explained that 57 people had received COVID-19 vaccinations from the doses that had been left out by Brandenburg. The hospital will work with the FDA and Moderna to determine how to move forward in completing those impacted individuals' vaccinations.

Police said the discarded doses were worth between $8,000 and $11,000, the Daily Mail reported.

Brandenburg was released on $10,000 bond, but "was ordered to surrender any firearms still in his possession and was barred from serving as a pharmacist."

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