A Wisconsin hospital pharmacist was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of sabotaging more than 500 doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine by deliberately removing them from refrigeration to spoil, police and medical authorities said.
The Wisconsin hospital worker accused of intentionally removing 57 vials of a COVID-19 vaccine from a pharmacy refrigerator has been arrested, local police announced Thursday. The worker had already been fired by the Aurora Medical Center, which said it was forced to throw out more than 500 doses of the vaccine as a result of the incident.
Grafton police said the individual has been arrested on three recommended charges: First Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety, Adulterating a Prescription Drug and Criminal Damage to Property, all of which are felonies. Police did not name the individual, but did identify him as a man. The suspect is being held at the Ozaukee County jail.
The incident was investigated by the FBI and the Food and Drug Administration as well as Grafton police, according to the statement.
The hospital launched an investigation and was originally led to believe inadvertent human error was to blame, reported CBS Chicago. But on Wednesday, the worker who was responsible admitted to doing it on purpose, Advocate Aurora Health said.
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Grafton police said in a statement that the pharmacist “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.”
Neither Aurora Health nor law enforcement offered any possible motive for the sabotage.
Those who received the ineffective doses have been notified and will need to be re-vaccinated.
The incident comes amid public opinion surveys showing widespread skepticism about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines, which were granted emergency-use authorization by federal regulators just 11 months after the virus emerged in the United States.
Reluctance to take the vaccine has even been expressed by some healthcare workers who are among those designated as first in line to receive them.
For latest updates on the outbreak check out our Coronavirus Coverage.