MADISON, Wisconsin (AP) – A Wisconsin pharmacist who believed the world was “collapsing” told police he tried to ruin hundreds of doses of coronavirus vaccine because he believed the shots were going to DNA of people are mutating, as evidenced by court files released on Monday.
Police in Grafton, about 20 miles north of Milwaukee, arrested Advocate Aurora Health pharmacist Steven Brandenburg last week after examining 57 tainted vials of Moderna vaccine, which official reports contained enough doses to vaccinate more than 500 people . Fees are still pending.
“He believed they were unsafe,” Ozaukee District Attorney Adam Gerol said during a virtual hearing. He added that Brandenburg was upset because he was about to divorce his wife, and an Aurora employee said Brandenburg took a gun to work twice.
A detective wrote in a statement about a possible reason that the 46-year-old Brandenburg is a licensed conspiracy theorist and told investigators that he deliberately tried to ruin the vaccine because it could harm people by changing their DNA.
Misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines has risen online and false claims have been spread about everything from the ingredients of the vaccines to their possible side effects.
One of the earliest false claims suggested that the vaccines could alter DNA. The Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, as well as the Moderna vaccine, are based on messenger RNA or mRNA, a relatively new technology used in vaccines that experts have been working on for years. The mRNA vaccines help train the immune system to identify the spike protein on the surface of the coronavirus and generate an immune response. Experts have said the claims that the vaccines can genetically alter humans are not true.
Dr. Jeff Bahr, chief medical group officer of Advocate Aurora Health Care, said Brandenburg admitted that he intentionally took the vials out of the refrigerator overnight at Grafton Medical Center overnight, returned them, and left them off that night from December 25th to Saturday.
A pharmacy technician discovered the vials on December 26th in front of the refrigerator. Bahr said Brandenburg initially said he removed the vials to gain access to other items in the refrigerator and inadvertently didn’t reset them. The Moderna vaccine has a shelf life of 12 hours, so workers used the vaccine to vaccinate 57 people before the rest were thrown away. Police said the discarded cans were worth between $ 8,000 and $ 11,000.
Bahr said the cans people received on December 26 were far from useless. But Gerol said during the hearing that the vials were actually saved and Moderna would need to test the cans to make sure they are ineffective before bringing charges.
Brandenburg attorney Jason Baltz did not speak about the matter during the hearing. Gerol held back to file charges, saying he had yet to determine whether Brandenburg actually destroyed the cans.
Judge Paul Malloy ordered Brandenburg to hold a $ 10,000 signature bond on the condition that he surrender his firearms, do not work in the healthcare sector, and have no contact with Advocate Aurora employees.
Brandenburg is about to divorce his eight-year-old wife. The couple have two young children.
According to an affidavit his wife filed on Dec. 30, on the same day Brandenburg was arrested while tampering with vaccines, on Dec. 6, Brandenburg stopped at her home and turned on a water purifier and two 30-day supplies Food that the world “collapsed” and she denied it. He said the government was planning cyberattacks and would shut down the electricity grid.
She added that he was storing groceries in bulk along with weapons in rental units and she no longer felt safe around him. A court commissioner found on Monday that Brandenburg’s children were in imminent danger and temporarily banned them from staying with him.
Online court files show that the Brandenburg divorce attorney withdrew from the case on December 28th.