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Doctor calls COVID-19 vaccines an “experiment”

Published: Jan. 29, 2021 at 6:15 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) -A Benton Harbor doctor is speaking out about his concerns with the COVID-19 vaccine. He posted two videos on Facebook this week sharing his thoughts.

He says that these vaccines have not been well studied and that if you choose to take it, you are now part of a real life study.

“You understand that you are volunteering to be a part of a great experiment with receiving the COVID-19 vaccine,” Dr. Don J. Tynes says.

Dr. Tynes who works at Benton Harbor Health Center and according to our reporting partners at the Herald Palladium also serves in a health care advisory role with the city. He has several warnings.

“This is not Germany, this is not the Gestapo, this is not the concentration camps and yes there were physicians who were in the SS Soldiers who experimented on the 6,000 mulatto or blacks in Germany camp(s).”

He says he’s trying to protect his patients and the community from vaccines that are not well understood due to a lack of long-term studies. Dr. Tynes is concerned about business being involved and employers mandating the vaccine.

“So this is an experiment. Businesses, corporations, and companies cannot and should not force you to be part of an experiment.”

I was able to chat with Dr. Tynes via Zoom to learn more on his perspective.

“I made a video to answer the questions and concerns of my community as well as of Detroit and Flint about the information that they were hearing and their concerns that they weren’t given the right information. Some people were saying things that were not correct,” he says.

He believes the vaccine may not prevent COVID-19 infections but only keep it from getting worse and you still need to wear a mask and socially distance. He also says he understands the African-American community’s distrust of the vaccine.

I reached out to Spectrum Health Lakeland for a response to the video and they provided a long statement, but here are a couple pieces: “We understand there are historical and contemporary examples of the mistreatment and misdiagnosis of Black people in health care settings. The distrust is deep and must be repaired.”

“Vaccines have been the bedrock of public health for decades, preventing infection, stopping outbreaks of disease and saving lives. We encourage the use of vaccines because the scientific data shows vaccination can improve the health of the community and save lives.”

Dr. Tynes says there has been a breakdown in the way healthcare should be working.

“Physician’s no long run medicine, what we have today is physicians are even disrespected. We called the N-Word, but physicians are called providers,” Dr. Tynes says.

Here are the full statements from Spectrum Health Lakeland and the Berrien County Health department in response to Dr. Tynes videos:

On behalf of Loren B. Hamel, MD, president, Spectrum Health Lakeland

We understand there are historical and contemporary examples of the mistreatment and misdiagnosis of Black people in health care settings. The distrust is deep and must be repaired. The Tuskegee Syphilis study, and others like it, was a tragic event in American history, and we recognize the deep and enduring wounds it caused. We learned many lessons from that time in our nation’s history. There have been several measures put in place for research performed on all subjects to ensure it never happens again.

We also know people of color have taken on a disproportionate burden of COVID-19 cases, deaths, hospitalizations. The COVID-19 vaccine is a critical step toward mitigating this impact. The vaccine was trialed among a diverse group of participants who voluntarily joined the study and received full consent regarding the benefits and risks. Our Spectrum Health clinicians have rigorously reviewed the data on the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine and are confident in its safety and effectiveness for people of all races and ethnicities. We are committed to health equity and enabling equitable access to everyone—no matter their race, ethnicity, or economic status—to receive the vaccine.

On behalf of John Froggatt, MD, vice president medical affairs, Spectrum Health Lakeland Vaccines have been the bedrock of public health for decades, preventing infection, stopping outbreaks of disease and saving lives.

We encourage the use of vaccines because the scientific data shows vaccination can improve the health of the community and save lives. Vaccines work by tricking the immune system to fight off an infection. They do this in different ways. Some use weakened versions of the virus that are unable to cause illness (chicken pox and measles); some use dead virus (influenza). The COVID-19 vaccines use mRNA messaging to trigger our bodies’ cells to produce pieces of virus proteins that the immune system reacts to, protecting us from infection. You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. Nor does the vaccine mRNA affect your DNA.

We understand people in our community may choose not to be vaccinated. We support their right to make that choice. While Spectrum Health encourages vaccination for itsteam members, the vaccine is not mandatory or a condition of employment. The choice to obtain a vaccine is up to the individual team member.

Clinical trials have shown that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna two-dose vaccine regimens are both highly effective at preventing illness from the virus, but it typically takes a week or two after the second dose to reach full efficacy. In addition, scientists are continuing to gather more data on how the vaccines affect transmission. It is still not well known if people who are vaccinated can be exposed to the coronavirus and become unknowing carriers. That’s why many of the measures we have in place currently including social distancing, wearing masks, and frequent hand washing will remain important for many months to come.

From the Berrien County Health Department:

“The Berrien County Health Department understands that there are some members of our community who may still have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine - from the way that the vaccine equips the immune system to fight the virus, to the potential side effects that one could experience after getting the shot. As our department has throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain committed to providing factual, credible, and timely public information. It is important that people are able to review the science and data to make informed decisions about what will be best for themselves and their loved ones. We know that not everyone will choose to receive the COVID-19 vaccine right away or even at all and we feel that it is completely appropriate for people to take some additional time to make that choice. In public health, our top priority is to decrease the morbidity and mortality due to diseases like COVID-19, using tested and verified methods to prevent illness, such as vaccination. Having reviewed the research ourselves, we firmly believe that the COVID-19 vaccine is effective, safe, and one of the best tools currently at our disposal to save lives, help build towards lasting herd immunity, and bring us closer to the end of this pandemic.”

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