Steven Brandenburg admitted to attempting to spoil the Moderna jabs because he falsely believed that they were dangerous. The 46-year-old was working as a hospital pharmacist when he removed a box containing hundreds of vaccines from a freezer for several hours in order to make them unusable.
Court documents revealed that Brandenburg believed in conspiracy theories and that he was “skeptical of vaccines” more generally.
They also state that he was working two night shifts at a hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day when he attempted to destroy the vaccines.
In a statement, Catherine Harmsen, assistant commissioner for criminal investigations for the FDA, said: “The FDA has ensured that the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine meets the agency’s rigorous standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality.
“Those who knowingly tamper with this vaccine place American patients’ health at risk. Today’s announcement should serve as a reminder that this kind of illicit tampering activity will not be tolerated.”
After discovering what Brandenburg had done, the hospital was forced to get rid of the affected vials, which contained over 500 doses of the vaccine.
A total of 57 patients received one of the affected doses, though court documents stated that these were ultimately effective in those who received them.
The documents further explained that harm was still caused to the patients who received them, given the stress they had for weeks after discovering what Brandenburg had attempted to do to them.
According to the documents one of the affect people said: “He took away the security of knowing I was protected from this virus.”
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Prosecutors recommended that the court sentence Brandenburg to four years and three months behind bars, noting that he “could have easily killed multiple people”.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Brandenburg felt “great shame” over his actions before receiving his sentence, as well as issuing apologies to his coworkers, family and the community.
Brandenburg said: “I did not have the right to make this decision for them. I’m tormented by it daily.”
In January, he pleaded guilty to two counts of attempting to tamper with consumer products with reckless disregard for the risk that another person will be placed in danger of death or bodily injury.
According to the Department of Justice, Brandenburg was sentenced to three years in prison, as well as three years of supervised release and a fine of $84,000 to be paid in restitution to the hospital.
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