Worker accused of "spoiling" 500 vaccine doses is arrested

Yesterday, Allahpundit dove into the story of the Wisconsin hospital worker who was fired for “spoiling” more than 500 doses of vaccine by removing them from refrigeration and leaving them out on a counter all night. I’ll confess that I was a bit confused by that report. I mean, that had to be an accident, right? What sort of person would do that intentionally? But as it turns out, further investigation has revealed that the as-yet-unnamed worker has confessed to doing it on purpose. Now he’s been arrested and is facing a number of charges. (WaPo)

A pharmacist accused of deliberately spoiling more than 500 doses of coronavirus vaccine at a hospital outside Milwaukee was arrested Thursday afternoon, local authorities said.

Police in Grafton, Wis., arrested the unnamed man on recommended charges of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, adulterating a prescription drug and criminal damage to property. He is being held in the county jail, according to a statement from the police department.

The alleged episode, at Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, Wis., touched off anger nationwide as limited supplies of shots are rationed for high-risk individuals. The estimated value of the doses, which authorities said totaled as much as $11,000, pales in comparison to the protection they might have offered to health-care workers on the front lines of the intensifying pandemic.

This story is even stranger than it first appeared. According to the police, the man admitted in writing to doing the deed, further noting that he was fully aware that if the vials were stored improperly “the vaccine would be ineffective.” My first thought was to wonder why he confessed when he could have simply said that he’d made a mistake. I suppose it’s possible that he told someone else about his actions and they reported him to either the police or a supervisor.

Making matters worse, he didn’t just do this once. He did it twice. He reportedly left the vials out on Christmas Eve, returned them to their refrigerated storage place in the morning, and then did the same thing the following night. On Saturday, thinking that they had only been left out for one night and were still good, the hospital rushed to use the vials to vaccinate “several dozen people.” But now it turns out that those people may not receive the full measure of expected immunity if they see any benefit at all. Presumably, those several dozen people will have to come back for another round of treatment.

What could have motivated this guy? This just doesn’t sound like some sort of prank that even a very nasty person would pull because there’s no real payoff to it. Was he thinking, ‘ha ha, you thought you were vaccinated but you’re still vulnerable?’ For a group of total strangers? I suppose there are some people out there who are simply evil jerks who will cause chaos and harm just for the sake of doing it, but even if that’s the case here it’s a really bizarre way to cause trouble.

They’re apparently not contemplating charging the guy with attempted murder, but they are going to try for reckless endangerment. There are also a couple of more pedestrian charges related to damage to property and adulterating a prescription medication. I suppose that’s fair, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a court decides to throw the book at him just to set an example.

Meanwhile, even though this one doesn’t appear to have been intentional, 42 people in West Virginia were accidentally given antibody treatments when they thought they were getting the vaccine. (The Hill)

West Virginia officials accidentally gave 42 people a COVID-19 antibody treatment instead of Moderna’s vaccine.

The West Virginia National Guard said in a statement that it “learned of an error” on Wednesday that resulted in the individuals receiving Regeneron’s COVID-19 antibody treatment instead of the vaccine.

The state Health Department is saying that they don’t believe the recipients are in any danger from being given the antibody treatment. All of the people who received it will be called back and offered the actual vaccine.

The curious part about this snafu is that the antibody treatment is given via an IV line, not a quick injection with a syringe. Wouldn’t the people who showed up looking for a vaccination notice that something was different? Perhaps not, I suppose, particularly if they don’t work in the healthcare field. But what about the workers at the clinic? If they knew they were supposed to be administering vaccines and were suddenly told to start hooking patients up to an IV line, wouldn’t they ask some questions?

I guess we can’t come down on the clinic too hard. This is one of the biggest rollouts of a brand new vaccine the nation has ever seen. There were bound to be some screwups along the way. Let’s just hope that none of them turn out to be literally fatal errors.