Licensed pharmacist Steve Brandenburg, left, has been arrested on the same charges as a worker at Advocate Aurora Healthcare in Grafton, Wisconsin, who was accused of destroying 57 vials of Moderna’s new Covid vaccine (Pictures: Ozaukee County Jail/Google Maps)
This is believed to be the hospital pharmacist accused of deliberately destroying 500 doses of Moderna’s new Covid vaccine. Steven Brandenburg, 46, was booked into Ozaukee County Jail in Grafton, Wisconsin, on Thursday on charges of recklessly endangering safety, adulterating a prescription drug and criminal damage to property.
Officials have yet to formally identify the suspect, but Brandenburg has been booked on identical charges to those laid out by the FBI during a New Year’s Eve press conference. He is also licensed as a pharmacist in Wisconsin.
So far, no motive for the destruction has been given.
Officials at Advocate Aurora Healthcare Hospital said 57 vials of the Moderna vaccine was deliberately left out of a hospital fridge and spoiled, MailOnline reported.
Those vials contained enough vaccine to inject 500 people. A total of 57 people were given vaccines from the vials which officials initially believed had not been left out long enough to be ruined.
But they are subsequently said to have discovered that the vials had been removed twice, with hospital bosses now believing those shots will have been less effective at preventing potential Covid infections.
Hospital president Dr Jeff Bahr says those injected are not in any danger, and that his team are working with Moderna on how to treat patients who were given the damaged vaccines.
The pharmacist is deliberately accused of leaving doses of Moderna’s vaccine out of the fridge last Thursday and Friday.
It spoils if left at room temperature for 12 hours or more. Thursday’s tampering is said to have initially gone unnoticed, with the suspect returning the vials to the fridge.
But the vaccine left out on Friday was spotted by a hospital technician, who reported it.
The pharmacist being questioned initially claimed to have left the vials out by accident, but investigators are subsequently said to have discovered that they’d been spoiled on purpose.
Advocate Aurora say they believe the vaccine spoiler acted alone, and have fired him.
Moderna’s vaccine is one of two so-far approved for emergency use by the US government. The shot and its rival, from Pfizer, are both around 95% effective at preventing serious Covid infections.
The US is set to hit 20million recorded Covid infections on Friday, with close to 346,000 killed by coronavirus.
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