Police in St. Kitts and Nevis are pursuing individuals overseas, in the investigation over unsanctioned herpes Vaccination trials that took place in St. Kitts and Nevis in 2016 without the requisite permission from officials in the Ministry of Health.
In a previously released statement the Ministry of Health said that neither the cabinet, the Ministry of Health, the Office of the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) nor the St. Kitts and Nevis Medical Board has ever been approached on this project.
“By extension, none of these agencies has approved such a venture,” the statement read. “As a result, an active investigation has commenced into this project. The Ministry of Health will always ensure that all research involving human participants follow international standards which protect the safety and security of [people] involved.”
The statement also noted that the CMO, Dr. Hazel Laws, has established a committee to examine research protocols in St. Kitts and Nevis.
“In order to help fulfill this mandate, the chief medical officer convened an Interim Ethics Review Committee (IERC) to vet all medical research protocols in the Federation in keeping with international best practices,” said the statement.
“The role of the IERC is to ensure that the basic ethical principles and guidelines that govern the conduct of research involving human beings are maintained at all times.”
Briefly addressing the matter Wednesday, Deputy Commissioner of Police Kilroy Brandy indicated that the investigation remains active and the police are pursuing persons of interest overseas.
“The herpes investigation is continuing, we have interviewed several persons and recorded several statements and pursuing persons of interest overseas,” Brandy stated.
Addressing the matter Prime Minister and Minister of National Security the Hon. Dr. Timothy Harris indicated that when matters are under active investigation by the police it would not be wise for the police to be engaged in the sharing of information.
He however warned members of the press not to get drawn into reporting of falsified information regarding the incident.
“I would want to encourage the press not to get side tracked in fake news being put forward and being circulated by people who want to take attention from the real issues.”
Dr. Harris also reassured the government’s commitment to finding the facts in regards to the matter.
“The matter we did say was being pursued and we did commit and that commitment continues. When the investigations are ready and we can report we will report, but it will be premature for us to engage while still being active in these investigations. You can rely on this government’s word.”
The clinical trials were conducted in the federation in 2016, allegedly with the support of Southern Illinois University (SIU) in the United States of America.
According to the school’s website, a vaccine developed by a researcher associated with William Halford, Ph.D who has since passed and was an associate professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology at SIU School of Medicine.
“The results were impressive, suggesting a functional cure for the disease may be on the horizon,” the article noted.
“The vaccine was the result of 15 years of Dr. Halford’s herpes immunology research, including a series of studies to prove the safety of using a live-attenuated (weakened) virus vaccine, a method that has fallen out of favour with the scientific community over the past 30 years as the development of synthetic vaccines has attracted increased research funding.”
The article further indicated that the trial was designed for convenience, speed and efficiency and was used as a medium “to introduce the TheravaxHSV-2 vaccine in an inviting environment that would interest patients and scientists alike.”