By Celeste McGovern
It is very rare for the mainstream media to critically report on questionable activity by the pharmaceutical industry and especially by vaccine manufacturers, so the recent rash of news stories about a “shady” and “patently unethical” offshore vaccine trial funded by billionaire entrepreneur Peter Thiel is intriguing.
Twenty patients on the quiet Caribbean island of St. Kitts were reportedly given an experimental genital herpes virus vaccine by a small private vaccine manufacturing company called Rational Vaccines in 2016.
A maverick scientist had developed his own risky genital herpes vaccine to inject into unwitting subjects on the secluded paradise island which has pockets of poverty, the story goes. The “weakened but not dead” virus vaccine was particularly concerning to doctors. Unwilling to be fettered by the bother of Food and Drug Administration bureaucratic tangles and impatient to get his drug to market, the scientist had enlisted a ring of “libertarian” tycoons to help him buy his way past the FDA and other regulatory bodies. The headlines zeroed in on the funding role of PayPal founder and venture capitalist Peter Thiel.
“What they’re doing is patently unethical,” Jonathan Zenilman, chief of Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center’s Infectious Diseases Division told Kaiser Health which broke the story. “There’s a reason why researchers rely on these protections. People can die.”
The comment ricocheted from CNBC and the New York Post to Newsweek and Salon. It’s an admission you rarely hear from the Pharma-controlled press: vaccines can kill. People can die. Live virus vaccines are dangerous, even though we are told they are safe and effective for our babies. The story carried the inference that FDA oversight makes studies so much more trustworthy and ethical. And the implication that anyone, like Thiel, who would step outside that government lifejacket of protection must be reckless and greedy.
That is the mainstream version of the story – a mix and match yarn that capitalizes on certain truths while ignoring others. The media has polished the art of paltering – or lying while telling the truth.