Police in Grafton said both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Drug Administration are assisting them in investigating why an employee at the Aurora Health Clinic, now identified as Steven Brandenburg, 46, intentionally spoiled 570 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Brandenburg was booked into the Ozaukee County jail under possible charges of criminal damage to property and second-degree recklessly endangering safety.
“The individual in question today acknowledged that they intentionally removed the vaccine from refrigeration,” Aurora said in a statement Wednesday. “We are more than disappointed that this individual’s actions will result in a delay of more than 500 people receiving their vaccine. This was a violation of our core values, and the individual is no longer employed by us.”
On Wednesday, Aurora said the employee did not mistakenly leave the vaccine out of a refrigerator needed to keep the doses at a certain temperature. The hospital said the employee admitted to intentionally spoiling the doses.
The spoiled doses were discovered after someone left 500 vials of the Moderna vaccine out of a refrigerator overnight Friday. The Moderna vaccine must be kept refrigerated, unlike the Pfizer vaccine, which must be kept well below zero. The 500 vaccine doses were discarded on Saturday.
Grafton Police issued a statement that said they were notified “regarding an employee tampering with vials of the COVID-19 vaccine.” The police department went on to say “this matter is being actively investigated by the FBI and the Food and Drug Administration.”
“We learned that about 50 vials of Moderna vaccine were inadvertently removed from a pharmacy refrigerator overnight. Our internal review determined that as a result of unintended human error,” Aurora said on Monday. “After successfully vaccinating about 17,000 team members over the last 12 days, we are clearly disappointed and regret this happened.”
Initially, Aurora Health issued a statement that chalked the spoilage up to a mistake.