A hospital pharmacist who admitted he was skeptical about COVID-19 vaccines received a 3 year jail sentence for tampering with a batch of Moderna inoculations by removing them from refrigeration, the Justice Department said on Tuesday.
“According to court documents, [Steven] Brandenburg purposefully removed a box of COVID-19 vaccine vials manufactured by Moderna – which must be stored at specific cold temperatures to remain viable – from a hospital refrigeration unit during two successive overnight shifts in late December 2020,” the department said in a press release.
According to his plea agreement, Brandenburg stated that he was skeptical of vaccines in general, and the Moderna vaccine specifically, and had communicated his beliefs about vaccines to his co-workers, the release said.
In pleading guilty, Brandenburg acknowledged that after leaving the vaccines out for several hours each night, he returned the vaccines to the refrigerator to be used in the hospital’s vaccine clinic the following day, the release added.
Before the full extent of Brandenburg’s conduct was discovered, 57 people received doses of the vaccine from the affected vials, according to the release.