Wisconsin authorities have arrested a pharmacist suspected of ruining hundreds of doses of coronavirus vaccine by taking them out of refrigeration for two nights.
The former Advocate Aurora Health pharmacist was arrested under suspicion of reckless endangerment, adulterating a prescription drug, and criminal property damage.
Jeff Bahr, president of Aurora Healthcare Medical Group, revealed that the now-fired pharmacy technician removed 57 vials of Moderna vaccine from cold storage and rendered them denatured.
Health care workers used the denatured vaccine doses to inoculate 57 people. Bahr said the doses were less effective and potentially ineffective.
“In the subsequent hours clinical leaders conferred with one another,” said Bahr. “And based on the information available, determined that the vaccine was still able to be administered on the morning of December 26th, given the 12 hour period of viability after removal from refrigeration.”
Authorities released a statement saying the suspect was currently in jail but didn’t release personal information because he hasn’t been formally charged.
“The pharmacist responsible for removing the vials maintained that this was an inadvertent error that occurred while the individual was accessing other items from the same refrigerator,” Bahr said, saying that the suspect later confessed the removal was intentional.
Patrick Brock, Sergeant for the Grafton Police Department, said, “The case will be reviewed by the Ozaukee County District Attorney’s Office on Monday, and we will release digital media and the individual’s name at that time should charges be issued.”
The department added the value of the spoiled doses ranged “between $8,000 and $11,000.”