Pharmacist accused of destroying vaccine charged

PORT WASHINGTON, Wis. (AP) — Prosecutors have charged a Wisconsin pharmacist accused of intentionally spoiling COVID-19 vaccine with misdemeanor property damage.

Online court records indicate Steven Brandenburg was charged Tuesday in Ozaukee County Circuit Court. Police arrested him on Dec. 31 as part of an investigation into 57 spoiled vials of Moderna vaccine at Advocate Aurora Health in Grafton, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Milwaukee.

Advocate Aurora Health Care Chief Medical Group Officer Jeff Bahr has said Brandenburg 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. The vials contained enough vaccine to inoculate more than 500 people.

Detectives wrote in court documents that Brandenburg is an admitted conspiracy theorist and believed the vaccine would mutate people’s DNA. Experts have said there’s no truth to the claims that COVID-19 vaccines can genetically modify humans.

Brandenburg faces up to nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine if convicted. His attorney, Jason Baltz, declined comment when reached by phone.

Brandenburg was scheduled to make his initial court appearance at 3:30 p.m.

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