Advocate Aurora Health Care Chief Medical Group Officer Jeff Bahr told reporters during a teleconference on Thursday afternoon that the pharmacist deliberately removed 57 vials that held hundreds of doses of the Moderna vaccine from refrigeration at a Grafton medical centre overnight on December 24 into December 25, returned them, then left them out again on the night of December 25 into Saturday. The vials contained enough doses to inoculate 570 people.
A pharmacy technician discovered the vials outside the refrigerator on Saturday morning. Bahr said the pharmacist initially said that he had removed the vaccine to access other items in the refrigerator and had inadvertently failed to replace it.
The Moderna vaccine is still viable for 12 hours outside refrigeration, so workers used the vaccine to inoculate 57 people before discarding the rest. Police said the discarded doses were worth between $US8000 and $US11,000.
Bahr said health system officials grew more suspicious of the pharmacist as they reviewed the incident. After multiple interviews the pharmacist acknowledged on Wednesday that he removed the vaccine deliberately and left it out overnight December 24 into December 25, returned it to the refrigerator at some point and then removed it again later.
Bahr said that means that the doses people received Saturday are all but useless. Moderna has told Aurora that there’s no safety concerns but the system is monitoring them closely, he said.
Bahr declined to comment on the pharmacist’s motive.