World news wrapup: 4 February 2021

Vaccine-tampering pharmacist believes “the sky is not real, rather it is a shield put up by the Government to prevent individuals from seeing God;” digital pharmacist consults roll out in UK; push to include retired pharmacists in Biden plan

Grafton, Wisconsin: The pharmacist set to plead guilty to tampering with COVID vaccine doses in order to spoil them believes that the vaccines are “microchipped” and will render some recipients infertile, new information suggests.

The Daily Beast and other mainstream media publications published details from an FBI search warrant application for hospital pharmacist Steven R. Brandenburg, which include information on his beliefs.

One of Mr Brandenburg’s colleagues told investigators that she immediately suspected him when the tampering came to light because he had told her “that he does not believe the coronavirus is real, and he thinks the vaccine is going to harm people” and that “the vaccine is ‘microchipped’ and will turn off people’s birth control and make others infertile”.

She said he would discuss these theories at work to “anyone that would listen” and had been doing so for months.

She also said he had brought a gun to work, which he showed her, and told her he kept it “in case the military came to take him away”.

He had also told her further theories of his, including that the earth is flat; and that “the sky is not real, rather it is a shield put up by the Government to prevent individuals from seeing God”. He also believed that “Judgement Day is coming”.

Last week the US Department of Justice issued a statement saying that Mr Brandenburg was pleading guilty to two counts of attempting to tamper with consumer products with reckless disregard for the risk that another person will be placed in danger of death or bodily injury.

He had removed 570 doses of the Modena COVID-19 vaccine from cold storage, left them out for a time and returned them after they had spoiled. At least 57 patients reportedly were injected with these sabotaged vaccine doses.


Washington, DC: The American Pharmacists Association has asked the Biden administration to include recently retired pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in its campaign to vaccinate 100 million Americans against COVID-19 during the administration’s first 100 days.

Nine other pharmacy organisations joined APhA in preparing the joint letter.

“Recently inactive pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are ready and able to help meet President Biden’s goal of achieving 100 million Americans vaccinated in his first 100 days,” they wrote.

“We urge you to expand the Fifth Amendment to the [Fifth Amendment to the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act] PREP Act and include them in the authorization.”

Late last month, the Biden administration expanded the nation’s vaccinating workforce even further by extending vaccination authority to retired physicians and nurses who have held a license in good standing with any state during the last five years.

“Every state allows pharmacists to administer vaccinations to patients, and pharmacists are well-trained to undertake this service,” the pharmacy groups said in its letter to the administration. 

Meanwhile a 2 February White House statement noted the launch of the first phase of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 vaccination.

“As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to increase access to COVID-19 vaccines, starting on February 11, those eligible for the vaccine will have the opportunity to be vaccinated at select pharmacies across the country through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination,” the briefing document states.

“This program is a public-private partnership with 21 national pharmacy partners and networks of independent pharmacies representing over 40,000 pharmacy locations nationwide…

“Americans should check their pharmacy’s website to find out if vaccine is available as supply will be limited in the initial phase.”


UK: A new partnership between Well Pharmacy and the digital health provider, Push Doctor, are set to launch the UK’s first pharmacy-first digital service pilot, Health Europa reports.

The project is hoped to give more than 50,000 patients direct access to a virtual consultation with a community pharmacist through Push Doctor’s platform.

An initial stage of the pilot saw a four-week service offered at one GP practice, and this next stage sees it roll out to another three practices in the Plymouth Sound primary care network.

The project is hoped to free up GP time so that medical practitioners are able to concentrate on more serious or ongoing health problems.

“Through this partnership with Push Doctor we will demonstrate the central role pharmacists can play in providing primary care, prompting a shift towards a pharmacy-first patient mindset,” said Seb Hobbs, CEO of Well Pharmacy.

“The partnership provides an amazing opportunity for us to increase patient access to pharmacy services and ensure that they can fully leverage the expertise of these highly trained clinicians.”

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