Photo: AlexKich / iStock

Unlicensed and unregulated experimental vaccines were administered to at least eight herpes patients in the United States, in direct violation of US law, according to an investigation by Marisa Taylor at Kaiser Health News. The experiments were conducted secretly for several years in a Holiday Inn Express and Crown Plaza Hotel near Carbondale, Illinois.

What we already knew: William Halford, the associate professor at Southern Illinois University who conducted the experiments, died of cancer this summer. Halford had previously been accused of dodging US oversight laws by running trials out of a house on the island of St. Kitts in 2016. The St. Kitts and Nevis government says they were not notified of the research.

Why it matters: "We're not allowed to do this in guinea pigs in this country let alone human subjects," herpes expert Anne Wald told Kaiser Health News.

Money: Despite the controversy, a number of investors, including Peter Thiel, have invested several million dollars in Rational Vaccines, the company founded by Halford and Hollywood filmmaker Agustín Fernández III.

Deception: Halford, who was not a physician, took clear steps to cover his tracks, telling participants to keep the experiment a secret and "writing that it would be 'suicide' if he became to public about how he was conducting his research," writes Taylor.

Complications: Patients have reported side effects from the vaccine. Kaiser Health News reports that one participants fear that the vaccine gave him a new, different type of herpes is "possible."

Contamination: Not only were the trials conducted in violation of US law, they were conducted using live viruses. Live virus vaccines are traditionally handled in extremely sterile areas - which Holiday Inns are not - to prevent contamination.

Manipulation: Halford used patient's desire for a cure to manipulate them into joining the unauthorized trial: "People underestimate how desperate people with genital HSV are," Wald told Kaiser Health News.

Denial: Southern Illinois University, which previously denied it had any knowledge of Halford's action, refused to comment to Taylor.

Read the full Kaiser Health News report here.

Go deeper

The coronavirus is ushering in a new era of surveillance at work

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As companies continue to prepare for the return of their employees to the workplace, they're weighing new types of surveillance in the name of safety.

Why it matters: Just as the coronavirus pandemic has acted as an accelerant for the adoption of remote work, it has also normalized increased surveillance and data collection. In the post-pandemic workplace, our bosses will know a lot more about us than they used to.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6 p.m. ET: 11,712,663 — Total deaths: 540,582 — Total recoveries — 6,381,954Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6 p.m. ET: 2,981,602 — Total deaths: 131,238 — Total recoveries: 924,148 — Total tested: 36,225,015Map.
  3. 2020: Biden releases plan to strengthen coronavirus supply chain.
  4. Public health: Fauci says it's a "false narrative" to take comfort in lower coronavirus death rate — Deborah Birx: Some Southern states "stepped on the gas" when reopening.
  5. World: Brazil's President Bolsonaro tests positive— India reports third-highest case count in the world.
Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump administration notifies UN of intent to withdraw from WHO

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The Trump administration informed the United Nations and Congress on Tuesday that the U.S. is officially beginning the process of withdrawing from the World Health Organization. The UN is now "in the process of verifying with the WHO whether all the conditions for such withdrawal are met," according to a spokesperson.

Why it matters: President Trump's decision to formally withdraw from the UN's global health agency — which will take effect on July 6, 2021 — comes as the pandemic continues to accelerate both in the U.S. and around the world. The U.S. is by far the largest donor to the WHO out of any country, contributing more than 14% of its total budget.