Pharmacist who allegedly spoiled hundreds of COVID-19 vaccines pleads not guilty

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OZAUKEE COUNTY, Wisc. (WLNS) – The Wisconsin pharmacist accused of intentionally ruining hundreds of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine was in court today.

The attorney for 46-year-old Steven Brandenburg entered a “not guilty” plea to a misdemeanor charge of attempted criminal damage to property. If he is convicted, he could face up to nine months in jail.

According to prosecutors, Brandenburg intentionally left 57 vials of the Moderna vaccine outside of refrigerated storage on Christmas Eve. They were discovered two days later. Each vial held 10 doses of the vaccine, so 570 doses were potentially ruined by the actions.

Investigators say Brandenburg is “an admitted conspiracy theorist” who wanted to spoil the vaccines because he believed they were unsafe and altered patients’ DNA. The Food and Drug Administration has confirmed that the vaccine is safe and effective.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are both a relatively new technology called mRNA vaccines. It is true that mRNA contains genetic coding, in this case, the code for a protein that will teach the body’s immune system to recognize and destroy SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. However, mRNA breaks down fairly quickly and does not change the patient’s own DNA.

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