Pharmacist arrested, accused of intentionally allowing COVID-19 vaccines to spoil

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Officials from the Aurora Medical Center-Grafton, which is part of the Advocate Aurora Health hospital system, initially suspected employees had accidentally left the 57 vials containing the almost 500 doses out of the refrigerator at the hospital on December 26, a press release said on Wednesday.

According to Advocate Aurora Health, hospital personnel had vaccinated more than 21,000 employees as of Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the health center maintained that it had fired the person who is accused of spoiling the vaccines.

In a press release issued Wednesday night, Aurora Health said an employee at its Grifton, Wisconsin, clinic voluntarily removed hundreds of vaccine doses from refrigeration and was sacked for doing so. This will delay vaccinations for hundreds of people in Wisconsin, which reported 3,810 new coronavirus cases and 42 deaths on Thursday.

The spoiled vaccines held an estimated value of $8,000 to $11,000.

The Moderna vials must be stored between 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit.

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The hospital said 50 vials of the vaccine, which must be kept at low temperatures to remain viable, had to be tossed Saturday when the hospital discovered them outside the refrigerator. "We will partner with them and the FDA to figure out a strategy on the future vaccination of the affected 57 individuals". However, a licensed pharmacist named Steven Brandenburg was booked Thursday for the same charges, according to the Ozaukee County Sheriff's Department. The hospital worker is suspected of "deliberately" ruining hundreds of doses of covid-19 vaccine by removing them from refrigeration for two nights.

The pharmacist, who was not named during the conference, is now being held in the Ozaukee County Jail.

However, during the course of an internal probe, the former employee said the COVID-19 vaccines have been removed for a period of time in the overnight hours of December 24 and 25.

"It's become clear that this was a situation involving a bad actor, as opposed to a bad process", Dr. Bahr said. He added it was either ineffective or noneffective.

A pharmacy technician discovered them outside the refrigerator on Christmas morning and immediately notified superiors, Bahr said.

"Grafton detectives indicate that the individual knew the spoiled vaccinations would be useless and that people who received the vaccinations would think they had been vaccinated against the virus when in fact they were not", Grafton Police said in a statement released Thursday.

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