A suburban Milwaukee pharmacist at a Wisconsin hospital has been arrested and accused of intentionally spoiling more than 500 COVID-19 vaccines by removing them from refrigeration last week.
On Friday, authorities said the unnamed pharmacist admitted that he knows that the COVID-19 vaccines would be ineffective if not stored properly.
The pharmacist is currently held at the Ozaukee County jail. He will face felony charges for first degree recklessly endangering safety, adulterating a prescription drug, and criminal damage to property.
The incident occurred at the Aurora Medical center in Grafton. Wisconsin. The pharmacist is a resident in the area. The hospital administered some of the COVID-19 vaccines before realizing that its medical health care workers have been administering spoiled vaccines.
The Aurora Health Care Medical Group fired the pharmacist after discovering his misconduct.
As of this posting, authorities still have no idea about the motive of the suburban pharmacist.
The spoiled COVID-19 vaccines are not harmful to patients who received them
On December 26, a pharmacy tech discovered that 57 vials and put them back in the refrigerator, according to Dr. Jeff Bahr, president of Aurora Health Care Medical Group.
“Based on information available, (we) determined that the vaccine was still able to be administered on the morning of December 26, given the 12-hour period of viability after removal of refrigeration,” Bahr said.
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.
Dr. Bahr said that the hospital had already contacted pharmaceutical giant Moderna, which developed the affected vaccines. The biotechnology company reassured the hospital that the spoiled vaccines would not harm the persons who received them.
Moderna said the vaccine can last up to 12 hours out of a refrigerator.
A “bad actor”
However, according to Bahr, the 57 vaccinations that were administered are either less effective or ineffective, based on the new information provided by the pharmacist. This is because the mRNA molecules in the vaccine quickly fall apart at room temperature.
“It’s become clear that this was a situation involving a bad actor, as opposed to a bad process,” Dr. Bahr said. He asserted that the incident did not result from any gaps in its protocols on vaccine management.
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