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Pharmacist Arrested, Accused Of Destroying More Than 500 Moderna Vaccine Doses – WBFO

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Updated at 2:05 a.m. ET

A Milwaukee pharmacist was arrested Thursday and accused of “tampering with and causing the destruction” of more than 550 doses of the Moderna vaccine against the coronavirus last week, Grafton, Wis., police confirmed.

In a statement, Grafton Police Department officials said the pharmacist — now fired from the Advocate Aurora Health hospital system — was arrested on recommended charges of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, adulterating a prescription drug and criminal damage to property.

Officials did not release the individual’s identity “pending formal advisement of charges.” However, a licensed pharmacist named Steven Brandenburg was booked Thursday for the same charges, according to the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department.

Officials said that in a written statement to Aurora Health public safety officials, the pharmacist responsible admitted “to intentionally removing the vaccine knowing that if not properly stored the vaccine would be ineffective.”

The Moderna vials must be stored between 36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit. They can remain effective for up to 12 hours if left at room temperature. Beyond that, the drug is rendered useless.

During a teleconference Thursday, Chief Aurora Medical Group Officer Jeff Bahr told reporters that the former employee deliberately removed the vials from refrigeration on two separate occasions — on Dec. 24 overnight, then returning them to proper storage, and then again on Dec. 25 into Saturday morning.

A pharmacy technician discovered them outside the refrigerator on Christmas morning and immediately notified superiors, Bahr said.

As a result, health care workers were forced to throw out about 570 doses of vaccine. However, some people were given the medicine that had been left out.

Grafton police detectives reported 57 patients received those injections. Bahr said those vaccines were rendered potentially less effective or altogether ineffective. The patients, who have been notified, are not at any risk of adverse health effects because the doses were left out, he noted.

The pharmacist told investigators he knew “that people who received the vaccinations would think they had been vaccinated against the virus when in fact they were not,” officials said.

The value of the spoiled doses is estimated to be between $8,000 and $11,000.

The suspect is currently being held in the Ozaukee County jail.

NPR’s breaking news reporter Jaclyn Diaz contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Even with new COVID-19 vaccine approvals, rollout won’t increase before April – Global News

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Even with two new COVID-19 vaccines under regulatory scrutiny, Canada’s vaccine supply is unlikely to increase before April.

The country’s rollout currently depends on vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, both of which are in short supply amid overwhelming global demand.

Read more:
Coronavirus: Toronto’s mayor speaks to Pfizer about improving COVID-19 vaccine production

Canada is set to receive a combined six million doses by the end of March, enough to vaccinate three million Canadians on the vaccines’ respective two-dose regimens.

Federal officials confirmed Thursday that a delay in Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipments to Canada will cause short-term delays across the country. They also released a table showing how many people would be able to be vaccinated with the addition of all of the yet-to-be approved vaccines for which Canada has signed procurement deals.

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Vaccine shortage to travel bans, doctor answers top COVID-19 questions

If other vaccines apart from the Pfizer and Moderna products are approved in the coming months, 10 million more Canadians could be vaccinated by the end of June, making for a collective total of 23 million. However, the approvals would not boost supply in Q1, which spans January to March.


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Despite hiccups in the supply chain, Canada continues to be “on track” to receive the allotted four million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech by the end of March, deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said.

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“We will have enough supply,” Njoo said, highlighting all vaccinations are on track to be completed in Canada by the end of September.


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Supply chain expert says countries can learn lessons from COVID-19 vaccine rollout disruptions

Major-General Dany Fortin, head of the country’s vaccine distribution efforts, said despite some provinces being “disproportionately” impacted by the Pfizer-BioNTech shortage, Canada has managed to distribute 1.1 million vaccines across provinces and territories.

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Fortin further maintained that such “losses” will in time be “rebalanced” once the supply picks up.

Read more:
‘We need the vaccine now,’ health official says as COVID-19 variant found in Ontario nursing home

Canada has administered some 700,000 shots – that accounts for roughly 1.7 per cent of the population who have received at least one dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna products. In Ontario, about 40,000 people have been fully vaccinated against the virus.

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Meanwhile, Health Canada regulators are still reviewing clinical trial data for both the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson products. Three other vaccine candidates included in Thursday’s vaccine supply projection are not yet in the rolling review phase.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Vaccine delay left Barrie’s Roberta Place home vulnerable to COVID-19 outbreak – The Globe and Mail

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Paramedics transport a patient from Roberta Place, a long term seniors care facility which is the site of a COVID-19 outbreak, in Barrie, Ont., on Jan. 18, 2021.

CARLOS OSORIO/Reuters

The slow rollout of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination program to people living and working in the province’s virus-ravaged nursing homes has left one facility where an unidentified variant has been detected vulnerable to a devastating outbreak.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit got the go-ahead to roll up its mobile immunization unit to Roberta Place last Saturday – days after an outbreak began ripping through the long-term care home in Barrie, north of Toronto, infecting nearly every resident.

Colin Lee, Simcoe Muskoka’s associate medical officer of health, said residents and staff should have received the vaccine well before the outbreak began.

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Vaccine maker Moderna delivered 168,000 doses to Canada at the end of December. The Ontario government earmarked the Moderna vaccine for Toronto, Peel Region, York Region and Windsor-Essex, the four areas with the highest COVID-19 transmission rates.

Dr. Lee told reporters on Thursday that the four regions received the Moderna doses that were destined for Simcoe Muskoka. “We were planning to go straight to the long-term care homes with it,” he said.

Health authorities say an unidentified variant of COVID-19 is behind the outbreak at Roberta Place, which began on Jan. 8 after one staff member tested positive during routine screening.

The staffer was in close contact with someone who travelled internationally, but not to the United Kingdom, Brazil or South Africa. Dr. Lee said the staffer’s swab is one of six that contains an unidentified variant. It’s a “very, very high probability,” he said, that the variant will turn out to be the strain from one of those three countries.

Forty-eight hours after the outbreak began, 55 residents and staff were sickened with the virus. As of Thursday, 122 of the home’s 130 residents had tested positive for COVD-19, including 25 who have died. Another 72 staff and two essential visitors were also sickened with the virus.

The health unit immunized 21 residents on Saturday with the Pfizer vaccine, but testing subsequently revealed that most of them were already infected with COVID-19, Dr. Lee said.

“Unfortunately, the ability to move the vaccine came a little bit late,” he said.

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The health unit has a small amount of the Pfizer vaccine, which it must juggle between administering a second dose to long-term care residents and staff who’ve received their first shot and to those in retirement homes, who have yet to be vaccinated, Dr. Lee said.

“There are some difficult choices we have to make,” he said.

Fourteen cases of a COVID-19 variant have been found in Ontario as of Jan. 16, according to the province’s weekly epidemiologic summary. Roberta Place is the first known case of a highly contagious variant finding its way into a long-term care home in Canada – a sector that has been hard hit by the coronavirus.

Ontario has deemed residents of long-term care homes the province’s most vulnerable citizens. To date, 3,256 nursing home residents have died of COVID-19.

These residents were supposed to be at the front of the line for the vaccine. An expert committee that advises the Public Health Agency of Canada on immunization recommended that the first shots go into the arms of residents and staff in long-term care homes.

But in Ontario, that is not what has happened. The first dose of a vaccine has made its way to only 40 per cent of the province’s 626 long-term care homes, according to Alexandra Hilkene, press secretary for Health Minister Christine Elliott.

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In addition to the Moderna vaccine, Canada has also approved one made by Pfizer. Ontario opted to distribute its first doses of the Pfizer shot only through hospitals with access to freezers capable of keeping vials at -70 C, as the vaccine maker suggested.

“I can only wish I could turn the clock back,” Dr. Lee said. “If we had vaccines a month before we went in on Saturday, I think this outbreak would be a lot less severe.”

With a report from Laura Stone in Toronto

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

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Hospitalizations from COVID-19 in B.C. fall to level last seen in November – Squamish Chief

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The trajectory of serious COVID-19 infections in B.C. continues to point in the right direction, as the number of hospitalizations, and intensive care unit (ICU) patients, continues to fall.

The province now has 320 people hospitalized with the virus that has spawned a global pandemic. That is nine fewer than yesterday, and the lowest total since November 30.

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The number of hospital patients in ICU is similarly falling, as it is down by four overnight, to 66, which is the lowest total since November 26, according to government data.

Unfortunately 14 more people died overnight from complications related to the virus, pushing the death toll in B.C. to 1,104 since the first death was recorded on March 9.

New cases continue to pile up, with 500 people newly diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past day, and only 465 people newly diagnosed as having recovered. Testing also ramped up substantially, compared with yesterday, as 10,437 tests were given. That pushes the positive-test rate down to 4.7%, compared with 9.22% yesterday.

More than 89%, or 55,564 individuals out of the 62,412 people identified in B.C. as having contracted the virus, are deemed to have recovered.

The vast majority of the 4,345 people actively infected with the virus have been told to self-isolate, while 6,905 people are under active health monitoring from officials because they are known to have been in contact with others who have tested positive for the virus.

Here is a regional breakdown of where the 500 new cases were identified:
• 125 people in Vancouver Coastal Health (25%);
• 216 people in Fraser Health (43.2%);
• 32 in Island Health (6.4%);
• 91 in Interior Health (18.2%);
• 35 in Northern Health (7%); and
• one person who resides outside the province.

Despite fewer doses of vaccine expected to be delivered in later January than first expected, there were 5,756 vaccinations completed in the past day, for a total of 98,125 since the first dose was administered on December 16. 

”We have had two new health-care facility outbreaks: at Villa Cathay in the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, and Acropolis Manor in the Northern Health Authority,” provincial health officer Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a joint statement.

“The outbreaks at Guildford Seniors Village and Maple Ridge Seniors Village in the Fraser Health Authority, as well as Mountainview Village and Village by the Station in the Interior Health Authority, are now over.”

They added that there has been one new community outbreak at the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre.

“Our COVID-19 curve is trending in the right direction, and we want to keep that going – to push our curve down, which in turn, will allow us to safely ease restrictions,” they said.

The nine hospitals identified as having active COVID-19 outbreaks are:
• Burnaby Hospital in Burnaby;
• Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake;
• Chilliwack General Hospital in Chilliwack;
• Mount St. Joseph’s Hospital in Vancouver;
• Ridge Meadows Hospital in Maple Ridge;
• St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver;
• Surrey Memorial Hospital in Surrey;
• Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver; and
• University Hospital of Northern B.C. in Prince George.

The nine active outbreaks at seniors’ living facilities in Vancouver Coastal Health are at:
• Arbutus Care Centre in Vancouver;
• Braddan Private Hospital in Vancouver;
• Fraserview Intermediate Care Lodge in Richmond;
• German Canadian Benevolent Society Home in Vancouver;
• Hilltop House in Squamish;
• Little Mountain Place in Vancouver;
• Minoru Residence in Richmond;
• Renfrew Care Centre in Vancouver;
• Sunrise of Vancouver in Vancouver; and
• Villa Cathay in Vancouver.

The 23 active outbreaks at seniors’ living facilities in Fraser Health are at:
• Avalon Gardens in Langley;
• Brookside Lodge in Surrey;
• Eagle Ridge Manor in Port Moody;
• Evergreen Baptist Care Society in White Rock;
• Fleetwood Villa in Surrey;
• George Derby Centre in Burnaby;
• Good Samaritan Delta View Care Centre in Delta;
• Hilton Villa Seniors Community in Surrey;
• Kin Village in Tsawwassen;
• Kin Village West Court in Tsawwassen;
• Madison Care Centre in Coquitlam;
• Mayfair Seniors Living Care in Abbotsford;
• Menno Home in Abbotsford;
• Morgan Place Care Facility in Surrey
• Nicola Lodge in Port Coquitlam;
• Peace Arch Hospital Foundation Lodge in White Rock;
• Queen’s Park Care Centre in New Westminster;
• Rideau Retirement Residence in Burnaby;
• Royal City Manor in New Westminster;
• St. Michael’s Centre Extended Care in Burnaby;
• Suncreek Village in Surrey;
• The Harrison at Elim Village in Surrey; and
• Waterford Retirement Residence in Delta.

The two active outbreaks at a seniors’ living facilities in Northern Health are at Jubilee Lodge in Prince George, and Acropolis Manor in Prince Rupert.

The nine active outbreaks at seniors’ living facilities in Interior Health are at:
• Brocklehurst Gemstone Care Centre in Kamloops;
• Creekside Landing in Vernon;
• Heritage Retirement Residence in West Kelowna;
• Heritage Square in Vernon;
• Noric House in Vernon;
• Sunnybank Retirement Home in Oliver; and
• Williams Lake Seniors Village in Williams Lake.

In Island Health, there are two seniors’ facilities with an active outbreak of COVID-19:
• Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo; and
• Hart House in Victoria.

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom
 

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