Pharmacist who destroyed Moderna vials took them out of a fridge because he ‘knew it would make them useless and wanted to make people believe they had been vaccinated’
- Wisconsin pharmacist deliberately removed 57 vials of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine from a fridge
- The health worker left them out overnight knowing the vaccines would be ‘useless’ to those who later received them
- He faces charges of first degree recklessly endangering safety, adulterating a prescription drug, and criminal damage to property
- Steven Brandenberg was booked under the same charges on Thursday
- Brandenburg is also listed as a licensed pharmacist in Wisconsin
- The former employee of the Advocate Aurora Health Hospital in Grafton was arrested Thursday afternoon
- The value of the spoiled vaccines is estimated to be around $8,000 to $11,000
- Wisconsin health officials revealed that 57 people were given the ineffective dose of the vaccine after it had been ‘deliberately’ spoiled
- Dr. Jeff Bahr, president of Aurora Health Care Medical Group in Wisconsin, said Thursday the culprit had taken the vials out of fridge two nights in a row
- He not only took them out overnight Friday as first thought but had also done so Thursday – returning them to the fridge the next morning before anyone noticed
- A pharmacist technician discovered the vials out of the fridge Saturday morning
- Because hospital officials were unaware they had been left out the night before, some of the doses were given to 57 people
- Aurora Medical Center Grafton is now working with Moderna to determine how the affected individuals can now be re-vaccinated safely
Wisconsin pharmacist Steven Brandenburg, 46, was booked on Thursday on the same charges
A Wisconsin pharmacist working at the Advocate Aurora Health Hospital in Grafton deliberately removed 57 vials of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine from a fridge and left them out overnight knowing the vaccines would be ‘useless’ to those who received them.
57 people received the vaccine from the tampered vials at the hospital on December 26 before a further review saw them thrown away and an investigation into how the vials were left out began.
Aurora hospital then informed the police and Grafton and on Thursday the pharmacist was arrested.
The FBI and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are now also investigating.
The male healthcare worker has not officially been named. A roster of inmates at Ozaukee County Jail show that Steven Brandenburg, 46, was booked on Thursday on the same charges.
Brandenburg is also listed as a licensed pharmacist in Wisconsin.
According to Grafton, the pharmacist intentionally removed the vials out overnight on Christmas Eve, with the intent of destroying their effectiveness and making the people who received them think that they had been properly vaccinated when they had not.
He then replaced the vials back in the fridge on Christmas morning. A technician then reported the actions to his superiors.
Currently, the motive for such behavior is not known and law enforcement are trying to establish what triggered Brandenburg into such anti-social behavior.
According to Aurora, there is no other evidence to suggest any other doses of vaccine were subject to tampering.
Those who received the vaccine from the tampered vials have been notified and the company is working with Moderna and the FDA on a strategy to properly vaccinate those individuals however there should be no negative effects from receiving vaccines that were rendered ineffective.
Police arrested a Wisconsin pharmacist accused of deliberately spoiling 57 vials of the Moderna vaccine by taking them out of a fridge and leaving them out overnight before 57 people were given the ‘ineffective’ dose. Aurora Medical Center in Grafton
On Thursday, police arrested Brandenburg on charges of first degree recklessly endangering safety, adulterating a prescription drug, and criminal damage to property. He is listed as a pharmacist, although police have not officially named him.
The value of the spoiled vaccines is estimated to be around $8,000 to $11,000.
Dr. Jeff Bahr, president of Aurora Health Care Medical Group in Wisconsin, said Thursday that the culprit had not only taken the vials out of refrigeration overnight Friday as first thought but had also done so Thursday night – returning them to the fridge the next morning before anyone noticed.
The net closed in on the suspect when a pharmacist technician discovered the vials out of the fridge Saturday morning.
Because hospital officials were unaware they had also been left out the night before, some of the doses were presumed to be fine and were given to 57 people before the remainder was discarded.
The medical center originally thought the doses ‘were inadvertently removed from a pharmacy refrigerator overnight,’ but on Wednesday said the culprit had acted ‘intentionally’ and fired him, while Grafton Police and the FBI launched an investigation.
Bahr gave a press conference via Zoom Thursday where he revealed the culprit was a pharmacist at the hospital and gave further details on the saga.
He said a pharmacy technician first discovered 57 vials of the Moderna vaccine had been left outside the fridge in which they were being stored in the early hours of Saturday.
The technician returned the vials to the fridge and reported the incident to their superiors.
Bahr said the pharmacist responsible claimed at first they had simply made an ‘inadvertent error’ in leaving them out of the fridge when they were accessing other items in the same unit.
The vaccine can be kept outside of a fridge for up to 12 hours before it becomes ineffective.
Based on the belief that the removal was accidental and that the vials had been out of the fridge for less than this time, clinical leaders at the hospital ‘determined that the vaccines were still able to be administered’ that morning.
A total of 57 people were given their first dose of the Moderna vaccine on the morning of December 26 at Aurora Medical Center Grafton.
The remainder of the vials were then discarded after being ‘rendered ineffective’.
Dr. Jeff Bahr, president of Aurora Health Care Medical Group in Wisconsin, revealed Thursday that the culprit behind the destruction had not only taken the vials out of refrigeration overnight Friday as first thought but had also done so the previous night – before returning them to the fridge before they were caught
But following an internal review, hospital staff grew ‘increasingly suspicious’ of the pharmacist’s behavior over the next few days, according to Bahr.
He was suspended before finally admitting ‘after multiple interviews’ to ‘intentionally removing’ the vials from the fridge.
The pharmacist then also admitted that he had removed the vials from the fridge and left them out overnight Thursday but had returned them to the fridge Friday morning before anyone saw.
This meant the vials were actually ineffective or noneffective, Bahr said.
Bahr insisted there is ‘no evidence’ the ineffective doses may have harmed the individuals given them and the hospital is working with Moderna to formulate a plan for how those affected can be given an effective dose safely.
‘The 57 have been notified,’ said Bahr.
‘There is no evidence that the vaccines posed any harm to them other than being potentially less effective or ineffective.
‘Moderna reassured us there are no safety concerns with administering a vaccine that has been out of the fridge too long. We will partner with them and the FDA to figure out a strategy on the future vaccination of the affected 57 individuals.’
The hospital boss also said he is confident that no other vials other than the 57 had been spoiled because the hospital had not received any doses prior to the day in question.
There is also ‘no evidence’ he tampered with the vaccine in any other way other han removing it from the fridge, Bahr said, as he sought to reassure people that this was the work of one ‘bad actor rather than a bad process.’
Grafton Police said the former employee of the Advocate Aurora Health Hospital in Grafton was arrested Thursday afternoon on charges of first degree recklessly endangering safety, adulterating a prescription drug, and criminal damage to property
Police and federal authorities launched an investigation Wednesday after the Wisconsin health system said the employee had admitted to deliberately spoiling 500 doses of coronavirus vaccine.
Aurora Medical Center first reported that the doses has been spoiled on Saturday, saying they had been accidentally left out unrefrigerated overnight by an employee at Aurora Medical Center in Grafton.
The health system said Wednesday that the doses of vaccine were deliberately spoiled.
In a statement late Wednesday, Aurora said the employee involved ‘acknowledged that they intentionally removed the vaccine from refrigeration.’
Aurora said it fired the employee and referred the matter to the authorities.
‘We continue to believe that vaccination is our way out of the pandemic. We are more than disappointed that this individual´s actions will result in a delay of more than 500 people receiving their vaccine,’ the statement said.
Police and federal authorities launched an investigation Wednesday.
The number of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin continued to rise after dipping in early December.
The state Department of Health Services reported 3,810 newly confirmed cases on Thursday, marking the third straight day of rising daily infections.
The state has now seen 481,102 cases.
COVID-19 was a factor in 41 more deaths, pushing the state’s overall death toll to 4,859. The survival rate remained unchanged at 99 percent.
Source: Read Full Article