Dec. 31 (UPI) — Wisconsin health officials say they were forced to throw out hundreds of doses of a coronavirus vaccine recently after a health worker intentionally spoiled them.
Advocate Aurora Health in Milwaukee said it had to discard more than 500 doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine after they were left unrefrigerated at a hospital in suburban Grafton.
Initially, officials thought they were spoiled due to “inadvertent human error,” but further investigation found that the health worker intentionally destroyed the doses.
Aurora said the unidentified worker removed 57 vials of the vaccine from a refrigerator last weekend.
Each vial contains about 10 doses and must be kept at constant temperatures between 36 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit to remain stable. The vaccine becomes unstable if it remains at room temperature for 12 hours.
“We continue to believe that vaccination is our way out of the pandemic,” the health provider said. “We are more than disappointed that this individual’s action will result in a delay of more than 500 people receiving their vaccine.”
Aurora immediately fired the health worker, and the act is now being investigated by local authorities, the FBI and the Food and Drug Administration.
A motive for destroying the vaccine was not initially specified, but Aurora said no other employees were involved.
When refrigerated, the Moderna vaccine can be stored for as long as 30 days — or for six months if it’s kept in a freezer. Once thawed, it cannot be refrozen.
Moderna’s is one of two coronavirus vaccines that have been approved for inoculations in the United States. The other was developed by Pfizer and partner BioNTech.