A Wisconsin hospital pharmacist told police that he intentionally attempted to destroy hundreds of COVID-19 vaccine doses because he thought the shots would alter or mutate people’s DNA, according to court documents.
Advocate Aurora Health pharmacist Steven Brandenburg was arrested last week after about 60 vials of the Moderna CCP virus vaccine were removed from refrigeration, which could have destroyed the doses, said the police department in Grafton, Wisconsin.
“He’d formed this belief they were unsafe,” Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol said on Monday, according to reports.
Charges against Brandenburg are pending. Brandenburg was later released from custody on a signature bond, police said.
Authorities said in a probable cause statement that Brandenburg admitted that he thought “the COVID-19 vaccine was not safe for people and could harm them and change their DNA,” reported CNN.
President of Aurora Health Care Medical Group, Dr. Jeff Bahr, told reporters last week that the 57 vials were found outside a cold storage container. A pharmacy tech worker discovered them on Dec. 26 and placed them back in a refrigerator, Bahr said.
The vials were used to administer doses to about 570 people, Bahr added.
Grafton Police Department Detective Sgt. Eric Sutherland stated that Brandenburg “recklessly endangered the lives of those people” by possibly compromising the vaccine.
Gerol said that testing still needs to be done about whether Brandenburg’s actions reduced their efficacy.
“It’s unknown how much time it will take,” Gerol said. “Fortunately, we have them such that they—some of them or all of them—can be returned to Moderna for the testing.”
In the news release, Grafton Police said the discarded doses were worth between $8,000 and $11,000.
Officials said that an investigation into the matter is ongoing, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), FBI, and other agencies are involved.
The Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine as well as the Moderna vaccine rely on messenger RNA or mRNA, which is a fairly new technology used in vaccines that experts have been working on for years. Experts have said the vaccines cannot genetically modify humans, according to The Associated Press.
Johns Hopkins University, in a December news release, stated that some people may have to deal with side effects from the vaccine.
“Side effects may vary with the type of COVID-19 vaccine. We know the most about side effects following vaccination with the Pfizer and Moderna messenger RNA—or mRNA—vaccines,” the university said, adding: “Side effects include fatigue, headache, muscle aches, chills, joint pain, and possibly some fever.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.