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Covid: US pharmacist in vaccine tampering guilty plea

A US pharmacist has agreed to plead guilty to tampering with Covid vaccine vials because he believed the jabs could harm people, prosecutors say.

Steven Brandenburg, 46, is accused of removing from cold storage 57 vials with 570 doses of the Moderna vaccine in Grafton, Wisconsin, in December.

Without refrigeration, the vaccine becomes ineffective.

Mr Brandenburg could be jailed for 20 years on two charges of attempting to tamper with consumer products.

He also faces a $250,000 (£182,000) fine.

He was charged “with two counts of attempting to tamper with consumer products, with reckless disregard for the risk that another person will be placed in danger of death or bodily injury”.

The pharmacist admitted that he “believed in various ‘conspiracy theories’; subscribed to notions of “alternative history”; and was sceptical of vaccines in general and the Moderna vaccine specifically”, the statement added.

Mr Brandenburg allegedly tampered with the vials on two successive night shifts at the pharmacy in late December. Each time, he left the vials out of the refrigerator for several hours before putting them back.

The attorney’s office said 57 people had received the jabs from the vials before the tampering was uncovered.

“Pharmacists rank among some of the most trusted professionals,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Hughes. “This individual used his special access to tamper with vials of the much needed Covid-19 vaccine.”

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