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coronavirus crime

Pharmacist arrested, accused of intentionally allowing COVID-19 vaccines to spoil

A pharmacist in Wisconsin was arrested on Thursday after police say he intentionally spoiled more than 500 doses of coronavirus vaccine.

Authorities say the incident took place at a hospital in Grafton, outside Milwaukee. The pharmacist, who has not been publicly identified, was arrested on recommended charges of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, criminal damage to property, and adulterating a prescription drug, The Washington Post reports.

The vaccine is slowly being rolled out across the country, first to health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities. Authorities say the pharmacist, who worked for Aurora Health Care, wrote that he removed 57 vials from refrigeration "knowing that if not properly stored the vaccine would be ineffective." This will delay vaccinations for hundreds of people in Wisconsin, which reported 3,810 new coronavirus cases and 42 deaths on Thursday.

Authorities estimate the value of the doses could total as much as $11,000. The vials can be stored at room temperature for 12 hours, but after being thawed cannot be refrozen. Aurora Health said when the vials were discovered out of refrigeration last Saturday, dozens of doses were quickly administered, but the company learned on Thursday they were taken out of the refrigerator twice, and it's unclear if the doses offer full protection.