Authorities say the Wisconsin man believed the COVID-19 vaccine would mutate people’s DNA.
A Wisconsin pharmacist told police he tried to ruin hundreds of doses of a coronavirus vaccine because he believed inoculation would mutate people’s DNA, court documents show.
Steven Brandenburg – a pharmacist at Advocate Aurora Health, a healthcare system serving eastern Wisconsin – told police he believed the world was “falling apart” after being arrested last week in the village of Grafton in Following an investigation into 57 spoiled vials of the Moderna vaccine, court documents show.
Authorities say the vials contained enough vaccine for 500 people.
In a virtual hearing on Monday, Ozaukee District Attorney Adam Gerol said Brandenburg had “formed this belief that they were not safe”. He added that the pharmacist was upset because he and his wife were divorcing and a colleague said Brandenburg had twice brought a gun to work.
In court documents, a detective said Bradenburg was a recognized conspiracy theorist and told investigators he intentionally tried to ruin the vaccine because it could injure people by altering their DNA.
The incident comes as the United States grapples with a continuing increase in coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations. To date, more than 20.9 million infections have been confirmed with 355,000 deaths, the highest in both settings of any country. A newly emerged variant of the virus, which appears to be more contagious, was also recently confirmed in several states.
It also comes as the rollout of the US vaccine has progressed more slowly than expected. Officials hoped to have 20 million people vaccinated by the end of 2020, but that number was just over four million as of January 1. President Donald Trump blamed state governments for the delay, while federal health officials said the rate is expected to rise. in January.
The rollout also saw a wave of misinformation about vaccines online, with a false claim that Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines can alter DNA. Both vaccines use a new technology in which synthetic messenger RNA trains the body’s immune system to reject the virus.
Aurora Health Care attorney’s medical group director Jeff Bahr said Brandenburg admitted to deliberately removing the vials from the refrigeration at Grafton Medical Center overnight on Dec. 24 before putting them back in the cold. He then left the vials again overnight from December 25 to Saturday. Both vaccines must be kept under specific refrigerated conditions to remain viable.
A pharmacy technician later discovered the vials outside the refrigerator on December 26.
Bahr said Brandenburg initially said he removed the vials to access other items in the fridge and inadvertently failed to put them back.
Bahr said the doses people received on December 26 were virtually useless, however District Attorney Gerol told the hearing that the vials were indeed kept and Moderna should test the doses to ensure that ‘they are ineffective before charges can be laid.
Judge Paul Malloy ordered Brandenburg to be released on $ 10,000 bail, surrender his firearms, not work in the healthcare industry, and have no contact with Aurora employees .
According to an affidavit filed on December 30 by Brandenburg’s wife, the day before his arrest for falsifying the vaccine, he stopped by her home to drop off a water purifier and two 30-day supplies of food, telling her that the world was “crumbling down” and she was in denial.
He said the government was planning cyber attacks and was going to shut down the power grid.