A hospital pharmacist destroyed around 500 doses of a Covid vaccine because he believed the injections would mutate patients’ DNA and harm them, a court heard.
Steven Brandenburg, 46, was also said to be a self-declared conspiracy theorist with objections to the Moderna shot being administered at Advocate Aurora Health hospital in Grafton, Missouri, where he worked. Prosecutor Adam Gerol told Monday’s virtual court hearing: ‘He’d formed this belief they were unsafe.’
Brandenburg was said to be struggling during a divorce from his wife of eight years, and allegedly visited her on December 6 to warn her that the world was ‘crashing down,’ and that she was in denial if she thought otherwise.
He is said to have told her that the government was planning cyberattacks, as well as shutdowns of the US power grid. Brandenburg is also accused of bringing a gun into work twice in the weeks leading up to the alleged vaccine spoilage on December 24 and 25.
Meanwhile, Monday’s hearing was told that the 57 vaccine vials allegedly left out of the fridge by Brandenburg must be tested to ensure that they were actually destroyed.
Gerol said Moderna is involved in testing the shots’ efficacy – with charges against Brandenburg likely to be lowered if scientists say he didn’t destroy the shots after all.
Brandenburg, a father of two young children, is accused of taking the Moderna vials out of the fridge for more than 12 hours and potentially spoiling them.
Advocate Aurora Health bosses initially believed the incident had been accidental, but later discovered Brandenburg had attempted to destroy the vaccines deliberately, it is alleged.
Hospital bosses went on to give 57 people vaccines from that supply, and are now working to establish whether those doses would have been effective.
Brandenburg, who has been fired from his job, faces charges including property damage and recklessly endangering safety.
He is free on $10,000 bail. Moderna’s vaccine uses new mRNA techology to stimulate an immune response to a Covid infection, and is around 95% effective at preventing serious Covid infections, according to US government scientists.
The injection has been trialed on 30,000 people, and experts insist it is safe.
Frontline healthcare workers and elderly care home residents will be among the first to receive the injection, which should become widely available by spring.
Covid has now infected 20.8million Americans, and killed close to 354,000.
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