Steven Brandenburg, the Wisconsin pharmacist accused of intentionally sabotaging more than 500 doses of the coronavirus vaccine, told police he did it because he believed the drug is somehow hazardous, reports NPR. “He’d formed this belief they were unsafe,” said Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol during a virtual hearing. Gerol painted a picture of a troubled man in the midst of personal turmoil. He explained that the 46-year-old is divorcing his wife, and he said a fellow Advocate Aurora Health employee reported that Brandenburg had taken a gun to work twice. Brandenburg admitted he removed 57 vials of the Moderna vaccine from refrigeration and left them out overnight Dec. 24 and 25.
Wisconsin Public Radio reports Gerol couldn’t submit proof that the drugs had been damaged and that therefore a crime had been committed. “And apparently the only way they can discover … is if they test them,” Gerol said. Moderna vials must be stored between 36 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit. They can remain effective for up to 12 hours if left at room temperature. Beyond that, the vaccine is no longer effective. Gerol suggested that Brandenburg, who has been fired, could be charged with attempted criminal damage to property, a misdemeanor. As a result of Brandenburg’s tampering, health care workers were forced to discard about 570 doses of the potentially lifesaving vaccine. Hospital officials said 57 individuals did receive injections of what may have been useless doses. Brandenburg was arrested on Thursday and released Monday on a $10,000 bond.