55-year-old Johnny Stine who is also alleged to have peddled cancer vaccines introduced himself as a biotech professional who for $400 to $1,000 would travel throughout the United States to inject individuals with his purported coronavirus vaccine, the Department of Justice said.
“Untested, untried, and potentially unsafe. This defendant was injecting people with an unknown substance claiming it was a vaccine for COVID-19,” U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran said in a press release.
Stine, who operated under his company North Coast Biologics in King County, was arrested on Thursday on a federal warrant for allegedly introducing misbranded medicine into interstate commerce.
Authorities say Stine promoted injections of his vaccine on the internet as early as March 2020, when the COVID-19 outbreak was formally declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Stine claimed that his main biotech effort was creating vaccines that attack cancer tumors. He indicated that he had used a similar method to develop his COVID-19 vaccine,” DOJ prosecutors stated.
Stine informed potential clients on Facebook that he developed a vaccine for the virus in “half a day” and that he didn’t need to wait months to acquire proper approval for it as a result of regulatory testing, a June lawsuit filed against Stine by Washington’s attorney general said. This lawsuit came after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent a warning letter to Stine’s business in April about its vaccine postings online.
At least one person who was injected with Stine’s vaccine was hospitalized this month for COVID-19, the Justice Department acknowledged in its report.
One of Stine’s early potential customers was reportedly the mayor of the San Juan Island city of Friday Harbor who in March invited Stine to visit him and potentially give him an injection, according to the Seattle Times. Mayor Farhad Ghatan later advised the Times that they ended up canceling the visit amid a public uproar over Stine probably violating a travel ban that was imposed at the time because of coronavirus safety issues.
Stine, shortly after the lawsuit was filed in June, agreed to repay about 30 of his victims and was permanently barred from advertising and marketing vaccines without testing and evidence, the Washington attorney general’s office said.
“This resolution ensures Mr. Stine refunds the individuals he swindled. He will pay an even steeper cost if he ever tries it again,” Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson mentioned.
Rather than totally complying with this order, nevertheless, authorities stated Stine rebranded his injections as an “immunogen” as an alternative to a vaccine. In August, Stine then traveled to Idaho to vaccinate an undercover agent where authorities seized his product.
Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer denounced Stine’s actions as “not only despicable but potentially deadly behavior.”
“Equally appalling is the exploitation of vulnerable cancer patients and their families, desperate for treatment,” stated Hammer, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations operations within the Pacific Northwest. “Snake oil salesmen, such as this, who endanger consumers should take this arrest as a stern warning.”
The charges filed against Stine are misdemeanor federal crimes and punishable by as much as 12 months in jail.
Only two COVID-19 vaccines, by Moderna and Pfizer, have been authorized for emergency use by the FDA.
Kyle James Lee – The AEGIS Alliance – This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.