According to a new investigation by Kaiser Health News, William Halford, associate professor at Southern Illinois University, conducted illegal trials to develop a herpes vaccine during which he injected herpes virus to people in hotel rooms and at a house on the island of St. Kitts.
Halford, who died of cancer in June, administered his experimental shots to at least eight herpes patients on four different occasions in the summer and fall of 2013. He ran a clinical trial out of a house on St. Kitts in 2016 to test the experimental vaccine.
SIU claimed it had no role, responsibility, or knowledge of the 2016 trial on St. Kitts, because Halford pursued it through Rational Vaccines, a company he co-founded in 2015 to market and research the herpes vaccine.
However, the university shared a patent on the herpes injection with Rational Vaccines, and promoted Halford’s research on its website. Moreover, when PayPal founder Peter Thiel invested millions of dollars into the research, SIU publicly hailed Halford and Rational Vaccines.
Instead of conducting his trial in a university laboratory, Halford selected two hotels — the Holiday Inn Express and the Crowne Plaza Hotel, located 15 minutes away from the college.
Additionally, Halford neither took the participants’ consent, which is required by US law when testing a live virus on humans, nor informed the authorities about the trial.
Meanwhile, Halford asked the participants to send photographs of rashes, blisters and other reactions they might have received as a result of the injections.
Halford, who was a microbiologist, apparently knew that his trial was a violation of U.S. law, as he stated it would be “suicide” if it became too public about how he was conducting his research.
In an email dated October 2, 2013, Halford told a participant that his hypothesis of the injection’s outcome was “nothing more than an education guess.” He added that “the proof is in the pudding…let’s see if your problems with outbreaks dial back or not.”
When a Texas man claimed he received the injections said he fears the vaccine may have given him genital herpes (HSV-2), when he previously only had HSV-1, Halford replied saying: “I did not think the HSV-2 vaccine strain would be capable of reactivation, but perhaps I will have to reconsider that.”