A hospital worker deliberately destroyed 570 doses of Moderna’s new coronavirus vaccine by leaving it out of a fridge. The unnamed staff member was fired from Advocate Aurora Health in Grafton, Wisconsin, after leaving 57 vials of the shot – enough for 570 doses – out at room temperature last Friday, ruining them.
Advocate Aurora Health said they originally believed the incident had been the result of an honest mistake, but revealed on Wednesday the worker had admitted to deliberately destroying the vaccines. The FBI, US Food and Drug Administration and local police are now all investigating the destruction.
No motive for the destruction has been shared, with the hospital saying it would release more information on Thursday.
A hospital spokesman told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: ‘We continue to believe that vaccination is our way out of the pandemic. We are more than disappointed that this individual’s action will result in a delay of more than 500 people receiving their vaccine.’
The spokesman said they’d been able to save an unspecified number of doses by giving them to patients close at hand, before the batch spoiled. Moderna’s vaccine, which is 95% effective at preventing serious Covid infections, can be stored in a regular freezer for six months, and kept at fridge-temperature for 30 days.
But it cannot be re-frozen once thawed, and must be used within 12 hours of being brought to room temperature. Pfizer’s rival vaccine is similarly effective, but must be stored at -70c (-94f), making it harder to distribute.
The US government has bought 200million doses of Moderna’s vaccine.
Frontline healthcare workers and elderly people in care homes are at the front of the line for the vaccine.
It comprises two shots given three or four weeks apart, with the injection expected to become widely available next spring.
The US has now recorded more than 19.74million Covid cases, and 342,400 deaths.
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