GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — If you’ve seen flyers asking to help COVID-19 vaccine trial participants test the impact of it, don’t do it.
That’s the advice of health experts and those taking part in vaccine trials after signs began appearing in the hallways of local apartment complexes asking for volunteers with COVID-19 to expose themselves to those in a trial.
They all read the same.
“I am looking for anyone who is infected with coronavirus,” read a note taped above the bank of mailboxes at a Grandville apartment complex.
The notes go on to say they’re part of the Moderna vaccine trial out of Henry Ford Health Systems in Detroit and want to test the validity of it by getting close to someone with the bug.
It gives a contact number and an email address.
Sarah Lackey noticed one of the signs a few months back.
“I just immediately was like, what is this? And just ripped it down. It’s like, this isn’t right,” Lackey said.
Lackey volunteered for the Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine trial through Cherry Health.
The trials are all double blind, meaning half the volunteers get the vaccine while the other half gets a placebo — no one knows which one they were given.
“You don’t know if you’ve got the vaccine or not. Your study team doesn’t know if you got the vaccine or not. And part of the study is to determine if the vaccine is effective or not,” Lackey said. “Why would you knowingly expose yourself to something that could potentially hurt you or people that you love or people in your community.”
News 8 reached out to the number on the note with both a text and phone call.
Late Thursday afternoon, we received a return text from a person named Colin, who would not give his late name.
He said he wrote the notes.
“Yes. I took this endeavor on myself and it was never discussed or is supported by Henry Ford Health,” said the texter.
“I am part of the vaccine trial and am trying to do my part to contribute. But this is not something that is anybody else’s idea but mine,” the texter continued.
Colin denies that it’ a scam.
But Henry Ford Health Systems had a different take on the note:
“The note soliciting contact with someone infected with COVID-19 has surfaced previously in a different location. Henry Ford and Moderna have investigated the origins of this note and have found it to be fraudulent. No one should ever knowingly expose themselves to COVID-19, nor should someone diagnosed with active COVID-19 expose others to this dangerous virus.” wrote the health care System in a statement to News 8.
They did not provide specifics as to what’s fraudulent about the notes.
Colin says two people reached out to him regarding the note but did not follow through.
The Kent County Health Department has received reports about the notes as well.
Regardless if it’s a scam or a misguided attempt at helping prove the efficacy of a vaccine, the health department says it’s bad science.
“I don’t know what the end means of it are,” said Steve Kelso with the Kent County Health Department. “But there’s so many ethical considerations that go into clinical trials, there’s just no way to think that any part of this is real.”
If it is in fact fraudulent, it’s the latest in a number of scams the Kent County Sheriff’s Department is warning about. You can view the sheriff’s department’s latest scam warnings online.