Study Tries to Dispel AIDS-Polio Theory

Tom Keske TKeske at mediaone.net
Sun Apr 29 00:29:42 EST 2001


Studies Aim to Dispel an AIDS-polio Theory

by Raja Mishra, Boston Globe Staff  4/26/2001

There is no evidence to support the explosive theory that careless
American polio researchers set off the worldwide AIDS epidemic
by transferring the virus from chimpanzees to humans in the
1950s, according to four studies to be published tomorrow.

How the deadly virus made its way from its chimpanzee origins
into the human bloodstream is among modern medicine's most
troubling mysteries.  Mainstream theory holds that central
Africans were infected by hunting or eating chimpanzees, then
spread the virus as the region became crowded with cities and
roads.

The evidence, however, is largely circumstantial, and has
left the door open to more controversial theories, from AIDS
as a genocidal plot by scientists to a divine revenge for wanton
behavior.  Scientists say a definitive answer to the disease's
origins could prevent a similar calamity in the future.

The alternative theory with the most traction- US doctors
inadvertently fed Africans HIV-contaminated polio vaccine-
was popularized by crusading British write Edward Hooper
in the 1999 book "The River".  The four papers that will
appear tomorrow are a direct response to the book.

Their authors, scientists working separately in Germany,
France,  and England, analyzed most of the batches of the
actual 1950s polio vaccine, which had been preserved.
They found no traces of chimpanzee DNA or HIV.

Preliminary results of the papers were aired at a conference
in London last winter, but this week editors at the world's
two most prestigious scientific journals, Nature and Science,
decided to simultaneously publish the results, hoping to
deliver a death blow to Hooper's theory, said journal editors.

However, because a small portion of the polio vaccine used
in the 1950s was not saved and cannot ever be tested,
Hooper's theory is likely to persist, much like theories
about President John F. Kennedy's assassination, said
researchers.

Hooper was traveling in Africa yesterday and could not be
reached for comment, said his literary agent.

One of the scientists involved in the refutation effort said
the conclusions in tomorrow's papers definitively rule out
the possibility that existing samples of the 1950s polio
vaccine contain HIV or chimpanzee DNA.

Scientists at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia,
the nonprofit research center that created and
distributed the suspected batches of the polio vaccine,
expressed relief at the results, which they consider
vindication.  For two years, the Wistar employees had
been accused by some of causing one of the worst plagues
in human history, noted Clayton Buck, Wistar's CEO.

"The whole iss ue is now put to rest", he said.

But the mystery surrounding the origin of AIDS is not.

The first cases were identified in a handful of gay men in
Los Angeles in 1981.  Since then the disease has spread
to more than 30 million people worldwide, and shows
no sign of slowing.  In 1984, international research teams
identified the cause of AIDS as a virus dubbed the
human immunodeficiency virus or HIV.

But in 1985 came an odd discovery.  Asian monkeys
housed in U.S. labs were dying AIDS-like deaths.
Researchers found the culprit was a virus strikingly
similar to HIV.  They called it SIV or simian
immunodeficiency virus.  But SIV turned out to
be a weak virus that has great difficulty in making
the jump from primates to humans.

A mystery was born:  How did the jump occur?  Scientists
speculated that an African hunter absorbed blood of an
infected chimp.  But there was another nagging question:
Given that SIV is probably centuries old, why did it
take until the 1950s for the virus to infect a human?

There were no definitive answers.  Into this vacuum
stepped Hooper, a former BBC reporter long fascinated
with AIDS.  In his research, he found that the Wistar
Institute had used chimpanzees in its polio research
in Africa in the 1950s.  At the time, Wistar scientists,
working in what is now the Democratic Republic of
Congo, were testing an experimental oral vaccine for
polio made using monkey cells.  They gave it to about
1 million Africans.

Hooper found that 47 of the 51 HIV-positive blood samples
collected in Africa before 1981 came from villages where
Wistar tested its polio vaccine. He theorized that Wistar
inadvertently added infected chimp cells to their vaccine,
thus spreading the disease to humans.  From this, came his
1,000 -page book, "The River".

"For people who are actually trying to weigh the evidence,
these data will go a long way in laying to rest the controversy",
said Katrina Kelner, deputy managing editor of Science.
"But some people will probably cling to it."

=========================================

REBUTTAL

It is true that "some people will probably cling to it".
The Science editor's implication is that these are not the
people who are "actually trying to weigh the evidence."

It is no more clear that the news media, Wistar, or the
assorted scientists are really trying to "weigh the
evidence" in a spirit of objectivity.  By Science magazine's
own characterization, they are "hoping to deliver a death
blow to Hooper's theory."   By the new article's own
characterization, the scientists were involved in a
"refutation effort."

It would appear that this was the agenda, from the
outset.

It is not merely because of the "small amount"
of lost vaccine that there is reason to question
the results of these studies.

Certainly, the actual vaccine that was dispensed
to 1 million Africans cannot be tested.  What is
the ratio of sample volumes to the large volumes
of actual vaccines?   Are those samples adequate
to represent such large volumes of vaccine,
reliably?

Then, there is the issue of degradation in the
samples.  These are samples that are nearly
a half-century old.   In 50 years, where there
never power failures that affected the freezers
that kept these samples?   Even if they stayed
constantly frozen, the quality of the samples
after a half-century is open to question.

Presumably, the samples were kept precisely
for the purpose of testing such as this, should
any negative health effects be detected.  If Wistar
is so concerned for public health and for truth, then why
did it sit on these vaccines for so long?  The
origin of these charges did not begin with
Hooper's book in 1999.   These theories had
been controversial for decades.  Calls had long
been made for the testing of the vaccines.   The
lengthy delays suggest that desire for honest
inquiry was lacking.

Who maintained these samples?  For what purpose?
Was a daily log kept as to the temperature and
storage conditions?

Unless it is stated to the contrary, it would be natural
to imagine that the samples were maintained by the
very people who distributed the original vaccine,
and who stood accused of causing the worst health
holocaust in human history.  They would be bankrupt
and disgraced if that were true.

Even if the samples were held by some other government
agency, or government-affiliated agency, the trust factor
would be little improved.  The entire U.S. would face
political repercussions if the accusations were proven to
be true.

How difficult would it be to sterilize the samples before
sending them out?  Much more difficult than swapping
urine samples for a drug test?   Given the shenanigans
that were common in labs such as Robert Gallo's, can
we really be confident that similar things could not
occur?

The "mainstream" will say that this is self-justifying
"conspiracy logic", refusing to accept the "scientific
evidence."   That criticism is not particularly valid.
It is simply a matter of not being naive children about
this matter.  Politics, money and emotion converge so
heavily in this matter, that an expectation of purity in
science would be an absurdity.

The fact of four "independent" studies lends a veneer
of  scientific "consensus", that is deceptive at best or
an intentional propaganda method, at worst.   All of
these studies are dependent on the assumption of
receiving unmanipulated vaccine samples.   That
dependency destroys the "independence" of the studies.
They all share a common weak link.

The news article shows its bias in saying that there is
"no evidence" to support Hooper's theory.
The pattern of  "when", and "who", and "where" in the
earliest AIDS cases constitute ample justification
to question the "how".

Hooper provides 1000 pages of evidence. It is a trick and a
propaganda technique, to dismiss all evidence with the
wave of a hand, then say that there is "no evidence".
The fact that the evidence is being ignored does not mean
that it does not exist.

It is perhaps a sign of progress that at least the
mainstream media admits that "mysteries" and
"nagging questions" exist.

Still, the media cannot seem to see even further mysteries,
right under their noses, lost in the text of their own
reports.

Supposedly, SIV existed in primates for "centuries',
yet not until 1985 was it noticed in dying lab monkeys.

Does it not occur to the media that these same
types of lab monkeys where probably used in
U.S. labs for decades?   Anyone familiar with the
kinds of research done since World War II would
realize that there is hardly any kind of animal that
was *not* used for medical and scientific purposes,
in significant numbers.

No one had previously noticed such a thing as
large numbers of lab animals dying of AIDS-like
diseases?   It was found first in humans, even though
it supposedly existed for much longer in other primates?
Even when those primates were subjects of common lab
use, that should have provided ample opportunity to
notice such diseases?

An *old* disease tends to be comparatively
harmless in its host.    In some primates, that is
exactly how SIV is characterized.  Yet, these
Asian monkeys were *dying* of AIDS-like
symptoms.  Are we then to believe that AIDS-like
viruses not only crossed over to humans in this
century, but also crossed over from one
species of monkeys to others, or order to become
newly virulent?   Is this not another odd coincidence?

Why are we free to speculate that "African hunters"
spread the disease, through practices that are
centuries-old and unchanged, yet it is considered
"unreasonable" to speculate that scientists, deliberately
manipulating viruses in large numbers of assorted
animals, in new and unnatural ways, could not possibly
have spread new diseases?

Readers are encouraged to learn the history of virus
research in programs such as the Special Virus Cancer
program.    The direct relevance to the appearance of
a new disease like AIDS is undeniable.


Even more chilling is the fact that vaccines are suspect
not on one continent, but on two.   Hooper barely  dealt
at all with the experience of large numbers of gay men who
 received experimental hepatitis vaccines immediately before
coming down with the then-new disease of AIDS.

This is statistically analyzed and documented in an essay
at the following URL:

http://www.bhc.edu/eastcampus/leeb/aids/aidtesk.htm


The theories about AIDS will persist "like theories about the
assassination of President John F. Kennedy".   Just as with that
shameful killing, there even less reason to forget the shameful
killing of some 30 million people.  The theories persist for
good reason.

Tom Keske
Boston, Mass.








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