PORT WASHINGTON, Wis. — The now-fired Wisconsin pharmacist accused of contaminating 500 doses of the coronavirus vaccine is a conspiracy theorist who believes the medication is unsafe, according to court documents released Monday.
Steven Brandenburg, 46, a former Advocate Aurora Health pharmacist in Grafton, Wisconsin, told police he ruined the vials intentionally because he believes it changes human DNA. The belief is part of several conspiracy theories surrounding the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Prosecutors say Brandenburg removed the vials from a refrigerator Dec. 24. He returned them a day later before pulling them again. A pharmacy technician discovered the exposed medication Dec. 26.
Brandenburg initially told police he left the vials out by mistake. Worth between $8,000 and $11,000, the doses were deemed useless. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are only viable for about 12 hours without refrigeration.
Brandenburg is also going through a divorce from his wife of eight years. According to court records, he stopped at her house Dec. 30, the day he was arrested, and told her the government was planning cyberattacks and that the world was “crashing down.” Records also show that an Advocate Aurora employee told police that the pharmacist twice brought a gun to work.
According to conspiracy theories, coronavirus vaccines are made with aborted fetal tissue and contain the coronavirus itself. Both claims are false. It has also been falsely reported that the injections contain a tracking device.
Brandenburg is free on a $10,000 signature bond. Charges are pending.