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Prosecutor: Wisconsin pharmacist thought vaccine was unsafe

PORT WASHINGTON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin pharmacist told police he tried to ruin hundreds of doses of coronavirus vaccine because he felt the medicine wasn’t safe, a prosecutor said Monday.

Police in Grafton, about 20 miles north of Milwaukee, arrested the Advocate Aurora Health pharmacist last week following an investigation into the 57 spoiled vials of the Moderna vaccine, which officials say contained enough doses to inoculate more than 500 people.

“He’d formed this belief they were unsafe,” Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol said during a virtual hearing.

Charges are pending and the FBI and U.S. Food and Drug Administration are also investigating.

Advocate Aurora Health Care Chief Medical Group Officer Jeff Bahr has said the pharmacist admitted that he deliberately removed the vials from refrigeration at the Grafton medical center overnight on Dec. 24 into Dec. 25, returned them, then left them out again on the night of Dec. 25 into Saturday.

A pharmacy technician discovered the vials outside the refrigerator on Dec. 26. Bahr said the pharmacist initially said that he had removed the vials to access other items in the refrigerator and had inadvertently failed to put them back.

The pharmacist has been fired.

The Moderna vaccine is viable for 12 hours outside refrigeration, so workers used the vaccine to inoculate 57 people before discarding the rest. Police said the discarded doses were worth between $8,000 and $11,000.

Bahr said the doses people received Dec. 26 are all but useless. But Gerol said during the hearing that Moderna will need to test the doses to make sure they’re ineffective before he can proceed with any charges beyond destruction of property.

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