Last updated: August 31 2017 at 6.02am
An “active investigation” has begun in St Kitts and Nevis over allegations that a US-backed vaccine test took place in the federation to evade American safety oversight.
In a statement this evening, the country’s chief medical officer said in a statement via the Ministry of Health and Social Services, that a number of organisations have been kept in the dark over clinical trials.
“The Ministry of Health states categorically that neither the cabinet, the Ministry of Health, the office of chief medical officer nor the St Kitts and Nevis Medical Board has ever been approached on this project,” the statement read.
“By extension, none of these agencies has approved such a venture. As a result, an active investigation has commenced into this project.”
According to a report that surfaced on the Daily Beast website earlier this week, an off-shore herpes vaccine test took place last year in the federation.
The study was backed by Southern Illinois University and a group of wealthy libertarians – including prominent Donald Trump supporter Peter Thiel, who co-founded Paypal.
The trial was labelled “patently unethical” by Jonathan Zenilman, chief of Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center’s Infectious Diseases Division.
Safety and security first – ministry
Genital herpes is caused by two viruses that can trigger outbreaks of painful sores. Many patients have no symptoms, though a small number suffer greatly.
The virus is primarily spread through sexual contact, but also can be passed on skin-to-skin.
Earlier today WIC News reported that Denzil Douglas, leader of the opposition St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party, was directing questions to the government over the matter.
He accused the current administration of being in the know.
The health ministry’s statement empathically denies any knowledge, and stresses that international regulations will always be followed.
“The Ministry of Health will always ensure that all research involving human participants follow international standards which protect the safety and security of persons involved,” it said.
“In order to help fulfil 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.
“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.”
An update will be given once investigations have been concluded, it added.