A Wisconsin pharmacist left out hundreds of doses of COVID-19 vaccines as the pandemic wreaks havoc on the country because of … an unproven conspiracy theory that the shots would mutate people’s DNA, according to court documents released on Monday.
Last week, Advocate Aurora Health pharmacist Steven Brandenburg was arrested after police investigated 57 spoiled vials of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Officials said the doses could’ve vaccinated more than 500 people. Charges are pending, according to the Associated Press.
During a virtual press conference last week, Jeff Bahr, the Advocate Aurora Health Care chief medical group officer, Brandenburg was found to have left the vials unrefrigerated, which were discovered by a pharmacy technician on Dec. 26.
Hospital officials’ investigation found that Brandenburg, who was unidentified at the time of the press conference, admitted to intentionally leaving the vaccines out.
“Over the subsequent days, as we continued our internal review, we became increasingly suspicious of the behavior of the individual in question,” Bahr said. “The individual was suspended and after multiple interviews over the course of the week, admitted yesterday to intentionally removing the vaccine from refrigeration.”
According to the AP, Ozaukee county district attorney Adam Gerol said in a virtual hearing that Brandenburg “formed this belief they were unsafe.” Gerol added that Brandenberg was upset over divorcing his wife. An Aurora employee claimed that Brandenberg brought a gun to work twice.
In a probable cause statement, a detective wrote that Brandenburg admitted to being a conspiracy theorist and that he purposefully tried to ruin the vaccine based off of an unsubstantiated belief that it would change people’s DNA, according to the AP.
Misinformation on COVID-19 vaccines has run wild as experts refute claims that the shots lead to genetic modification.
Although the Trump administration vowed last month that at least 20 million people would be vaccinated by Jan. 1, just 4.6 million have received their first dose of the vaccine manufactured by either Pfizer or Moderna. Second doses are expected to be administered beginning Tuesday.