Koprowski Passes On, But Others Repeat the Same Old Untruths About How AIDS Began

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There has been a remarkably low-key response by the medical community to the passing of Dr Hilary Koprowski. Five days have passed, and the only reports that I have seen to date are the Associated Press report already mentioned (which has been used by the New York Times, the Huffington Post and others), and an article by Stacey Burling in the Philadelphia Inquirer, entitled "Hilary Koprowski, Polio Vaccine Pioneer, Dead at 96".

Koprowski lived in a well-to-do suburb on the outskirts of Philadelphia for most of his final 56 years, so this is effectively his home-town newspaper.

The latter article, whilst featuring a largely accurate account of Koprowski's life, also contained the following paragraph, which is factually inaccurate throughout.

"A discredited theory blamed clinical trials of his [Koprowski's] polio vaccine in the Congo for providing the bridge from chimps to humans for the AIDS virus. Scientific experts conclusively debunked the theory in 2001."

In reality, the so-called oral polio vaccine (or OPV) theory of origin of AIDS has never been discredited or debunked, though many in the medical community would apparently like to believe that it has been.

In reality, each of the alleged "disproofs" of the OPV theory is phoney. Let me be more specific:

a) the samples of Koprowski's polio vaccine that were tested and found to be free of chimpanzee DNA and HIV-1 (and related viruses) were not the right samples of vaccine to test, for they had never been anywhere near Africa. (I have repeatedly stressed this point. The fact that most virologists who make statements on this subject are well aware of this discrepancy and yet continue to proclaim it as a "disproof" of the OPV theory raises questions about the integrity of such scientists.)

b) It is claimed that geneticists have analysed early samples of HIV-1, and have concluded that HIV-1 must have existed in about 1908, or some 50 years before Koprowski's polio vaccine trials in central Africa were staged. But this is not a fact, but a theoretical assertion. And the assertion is based on a faulty model: the phylogenetic clock. In reality, HIV does not evolve at a constant rate that could be measured by a clock, for over 90% of its evolution comes about through recombination, rather than by constant-rate mutation.

c) It is claimed that the chimpanzees at Koprowski's 1950s research station in the Congo at Camp Lindi were not the Pan troglodytes troglodytes (Ptt) subspecies of chimpanzees that is generally assumed to be the host to the immediate primate ancestor to HIV-1. But again, this is false. I have provided factual evidence that at least one of the Lindi chimps was a Pan troglodytes troglodytes, and because of routine co-caging, a virus from just one chimp could have infected many others at the Camp. More importantly, there is strong evidence (as yet unpublished) indicating that actually there were many dozens of Ptt chimps among the 500 chimpanzees held at Lindi.

d) It is claimed that the chimps at Lindi Camp were not used to prepare the polio vaccines that was administered to nearly one million people in the Belgian Congo and Ruanda-Urundi in 1957-1960, but this relies entirely on statements solicited from witnesses chosen by Koprowski and his former deputy, Stanley Plotkin. It entirely ignores eye-witness accounts by Belgians and Congolese who worked in the Stanleyville laboratory and at Lindi Camp in the late 1950s, who say that bloods and kidneys from these chimps were used
to prepare the vaccine. (Some of the evidence on this has already been released, but there is more to come.)

e) Finally, it is claimed that even if the precursor virus to HIV-1 had been present in the Lindi chimpanzees and even if tissues from these chimps had been used to prepare the Congo vaccine, the virus could not have survived the vaccine-making process. Again, this is incorrect, and relies on the false assumption that modern vaccine-making techniques were employed to prepare the vaccine in Stanleyville. In reality, if 1950s vaccine-preparation techniques had been employed (as one would expect them to have been in the 1950s!), then there would be nothing to prevent HIV-1 or its precursor viruses from making it through to the final vaccine preparation.

Those who are interested can refer to a previous article posted on this site on 26th April, 2012: "The Origins of the AIDS Pandemic: A Quick Guide to The Principal Theories and the Alleged Refutations".

Ed Hooper; April 16th, 2013.