On Monday, news stations around Wisconsin reported that over 600 doses of Moderna vaccine had been ruined when 50 vials at Aurora Medical Center-Grafton "were inadvertently removed from a pharmacy refrigerator overnight.” The cause of the loss was put down to “human error,” and with millions of Americans eager to be vaccinated, the clinic’s owners expressed their “disappointment and regret.”
But on Wednesday evening, Aurora health issued a statement that turned accidental tragedy into a deliberate act of sabotage. In this statement, Aurora said that the employee who ruined the vials admitted it had been no accident and “acknowledged that they intentionally removed the vaccine from refrigeration.” The statement gives no motivation behind the now ex-employee’s action, and insists: “We continue to believe that vaccination is our way out of the pandemic.” But considering that the vaccine is estimated to be over 94% effective and the case fatality rate remains at 1.8%, the intentional spoiling of this vaccine puts hundreds at risk of long-term health consequences and could be regarded as attempted murder several times over.
The Aurora statement notes that they have contacted authorities. As the Milwaukee Journal reports, the Grafton Police Department issued their own statement on Wednesday evening that it was investigating “an employee tampering with vials of the COVID-19 vaccine.” The police in turn contacted both the FBI and FDA, both of which have joined the investigation.
It remains unclear why the now fired employee took such an action. It might have been a general anti-vaccine action, it could have come from the delusion that COVID-19 is somehow less dangerous than the vaccine, or it might have been some more elaborate fantasy, like the Q-Anon-connected claims that former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates is adding “microchips” to the vaccine.
Police indicate they believe this was the act of just one person. Considering the state of the pandemic and the problems with the vaccine rollout, it can be hoped this is the only such act.