By Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, St. Kitts April 16, 2018 – Seven months after the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis announced it had launched an investigation into the unethical clinical trial for a herpes vaccine by an American company, there is still no word on the outcome.
Observers believe the St. Kitts and Nevis government was not serious when it announced the investigation on August 30, 2017.
In December of that same year, the country’s Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris told the National assembly there is no evidence that the activity ever took place in St. Kitts.
“We have caused an investigation to be taken on that matter. The investigation has not revealed anything of what the Member for St, Christopher 2 is saying. We cannot get off in this realm that people pass through customs, because there is no evidence of it. We don’t know. Even if the allegation is true, we don’t know because the investigation has not yet been completed,” Harris well-known for misleading statement told Parliament in December 2017.
After the scandal broke in the American newspapers, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis said the investigation will be conducted by the St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force.
The opposition St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party was critical of placing the investigation into the hands of police, suggesting it should be carried out jointly by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer, the Customs Department in the Ministry of Finance and the Immigration Department in the Ministry of National Security to unsure it is not swept under the carpet.
Seven months later there is no known report on the conclusion of the investigation.
The lead U.S. researcher, William Halford, organized two groups of 10 participants and instructed them on drawing their own blood for the trial, according to a video filmed in a medical lab.
He proceeded with the trial at a private home in St. Kitts from April to August 2016, giving participants three shots over three months.
Once in St. Kitts, many of them quickly bonded with one another and Halford. Even though they ranged in age from their 20s to 40s and came from different regions, they had the disease in common. They commiserated about how herpes had wreaked havoc on their lives.
“It was a relief to meet people who understood what we were talking about,” the Southerner said.
But other participants now say they noticed some troubling signs.
A Republican senator has demanded that the Trump administration and a university scrutinize how a researcher was able to inject an experimental herpes vaccine into human subjects without routine safety oversight.
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley also told the administration and Southern Illinois University that he wanted to be reassured that “corrective action” was being taken to prevent similar research abuses.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Office of Criminal Investigations has also begin a probe into a Southern Illinois University professor for allegedly injecting people with an unauthorised vaccine for herpes in St. Kitts and Nevis and the United States.