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US pharmacist jailed for three years for tampering with COVID-19 vaccines

A Wisconsin pharmacist who pleaded guilty to trying to spoil hundreds of doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine because he was skeptical about them has been jailed for three years, the US Justice Department said on Tuesday.

Steven R. Brandenburg, 46, was also ordered to pay about $83,800 in compensation to the hospital at which he worked, according to a statement on Tuesday from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

Brandenburg had agreed to plead guilty to two counts of attempting to tamper with consumer products with reckless disregard for the risk that another person would be placed in danger of death or bodily injury.

Court documents showed he purposefully removed a box of COVID-19 vaccine vials from a hospital refrigeration unit during two successive overnight shifts in December last year, the Justice Department said in its statement.

Brandenburg was skeptical of vaccines in general and the Moderna vaccine specifically, and that he communicated his beliefs to his co-workers for at least the past two years, it said.

Moderna’s vaccine has to be stored and shipped frozen but does not require ultra-cold temperatures and can be stored for 30 days in standard-temperature refrigerators.

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