Police Say Pharmacist Accused of Sabotaging Vaccine Is Conspiracy Theorist

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

Many Americans are skeptical about the new COVID vaccine that is currently being distributed to the public. But at least one individual took his cynicism a bit too far.


A Wisconsin pharmacist was arrested after he allegedly tried to sabotage hundreds of doses of the coronavirus vaccine last week. The authorities stated that Steven Brandenburg, 46, committed the act because he is a “conspiracy theorist.”

According to NBC News, “police in Grafton, about 20 miles north of Milwaukee, arrested the Advocate Aurora Health pharmacist on Thursday after 57 vials of the Moderna vaccine were apparently spoiled. Brandenburg took the vaccine doses from a refrigerator and left them out for 12 hours, possibly rendering them useless, police said.”

Grafton Police Detective Eric Sutherland told NBC News that the doses were worth between $8,550 and $11,400.

In the probable cause statement, Sutherland wrote that Brandenburg is an “admitted conspiracy theorist” and that he “told investigators that he believed that COVID-19 vaccine was not safe for people and could harm them and change their DNA.”

He added, “He admitted this was an intentional act.”

The pharmacist was booked on suspicion of recklessly endangering safety, adulterating a prescription drug, and criminal damage to property. Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol said that it wasn’t yet clear if his actions spoiled the doses or if they could still be used. Officials with Moderna will have to examine the doses to determine whether or not they are still useable. If the doses are still viable, the charges against Brandenburg could be downgraded.


Brandenburg’s wife filed for divorce in June 2020. She filed an affidavit on Dec. 30, the same day the pharmacist was arrested, explaining that “he stopped off at her house on Dec. 6 and dropped off a water purifier and two 30-day supplies of food, telling her that the world was “crashing down” and she was in denial. He said the government was planning cyberattacks and was going to shut down the power grid,” according to The Washington Times. She also noted that he was storing food in bulk in rental units and she did not feel safe around him any longer.

When the vaccination was released to the public, it was met with no small amount of hesitancy. Speculation that the injection was dangerous swirled on the internet, which likely increased skepticism. The Washington Times noted that “misinformation around the COVID-19 vaccines has surged online with false claims circulating on everything from the vaccines’ ingredients to its possible side effects.”

From The Times:

One of the earliest false claims suggested that the vaccines could alter DNA. The Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine as well as the Moderna vaccine rely on messenger RNA or mRNA, which is a fairly new technology used in vaccines that experts have been working on for years. MRNA vaccines help train the immune system to identify the spike protein on the surface of the coronavirus and create an immune response. Experts have said there is no truth to the claims that the vaccines can genetically modify humans.


As more and more Americans take the vaccination without experiencing serious conditions, much of the theorizing about the inoculation will likely subside. Of course, this is assuming that the vaccine is as safe as promised.


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