An unnamed pharmacist working with the Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, Milwaukee, has been fired and arrested after intentionally destroying over 500 doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. The pharmacist intentionally removed the vaccines from refrigeration, knowing fully well that keeping them unrefrigerated for 12 hours would render them ineffective and useless.
Each of the 57 vials contains 10 doses, and the vaccines he destroyed were enough to vaccinate 570 people. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine must be preserved refrigerated between 36 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit to retain its effectiveness before being administered to people. The destroyed vaccines were valued between $8,000 and $11,000; and the pharmacist has been charged with recklessly endangering safety, adulterating a prescription drug, and criminal damage to property.
Although no motives have been established, the offender agreed that he voluntarily and intentionally removed the vaccines with the aim of rendering them useless. He initially removed some vaccines on the night of December 24 and returned them to refrigeration after allowing them to thaw for several hours. Then on the night of December 25 he removed more again and left them thawed until another hospital worker discovered them, NBC News reports.
The hospital management administered some vaccines to people and then discarded the rest. The hospital said they are monitoring the recipients, and might vaccinate them again if it is proven that the doses they received were not effective.
Advocate Aurora Health Care Chief Medical Group Officer Jeff Bahr said the employee acted alone and will take full responsibility for his action. He said the security protocols of the hospital have not been breached and that the medical center remains secured.
“This was a situation involving a bad actor,” Bahr said, “as opposed to a bad process. We continue to believe that vaccination is our way out of the pandemic. We are more than disappointed. This was a violation of our core values.”
According to the Wisconsin state health department, about 3,810 new COVID-19 cases were discovered on Thursday and the state now has a total of 481,102 positive cases. A total death toll of 4,859 has been reported in the state and health officials said the survival rate is still 99%. Gov. Tony Evers has requested for more coronavirus vaccines for the state from President Donald Trump to meet with rising cases and swamped hospitals.