WHO Rejects Claim That AIDS Came From Polio Vaccine

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Senegal; WHO Rejects Claim That AIDS Came From Polio Vaccine

Panafrican News Agency, Africa News, September 13, 2000

© 2000 AllAfrica, Inc

DAKAR, Senegal (PANA) - The World Health Organisation has refuted a theory that HIV, the virus which causes the incurable disease AIDS, was spread to the general population by an experimental polio vaccine used in Central Africa in the 1950s.

Edward Hooper propounded the controversial hypothesis, in his book, The River (1999).

But the WHO said "this theory is not new. It has been described by other authors and was previously rejected by an independent panel of experts."

In his book, Hooper outlines studies that needed to be completed in order to rule out the possibility that HIV was spread to the general population by an experimental polio vaccine.

This included the testing of the retained samples of the experimental vaccine for the HIV, SIV (Simian Immunodeficiency Virus) and chimpanzee DNA blood test.

The hypothesis states that the vaccine was produced using chimpanzee kidneys.)

The rejection of the hypothesis follows new scientific findings by the Royal Society in London, which met on Monday to examine the origin of HIV. Hooper's theory is one of several hypotheses being considered.

The society said that genetic sequencing data suggests that HIV first entered the human population around 1930, well before the vaccine trials of the 1950's in Central Africa.

"Using ultra sensitive molecular methods, the experimental polio vaccine samples (which have been in safe storage since the late 1950s), have recently been tested, and are negative for HIV, SIV and chimpanzee DNA," reads part of the WHO fact sheet.

It said that the latter finding rules out the hypothesis that chimpanzee kidneys were used in the preparation of these experimental vaccine samples.

"Moreover, the process used to manufacture the vaccine would not permit the experimental vaccine to be contaminated with HIV or SIV.

Production of the experimental vaccine included treatment with trypsin (a powerful enzyme), freezing, thawing and filtration, each of which is known to destroy or remove HIV and SIV."

According to the WHO briefing sheet Tuesday, this process would not support the transfer of HIV to the final vaccine product.

"These new findings are consistent with other epidemiological, biological and virological evidence and indicate that Mr. Hooper's hypothesis cannot be substantiated," it added.

It stated that the Sabin strain of the oral polio vaccine used in polio immunisation is "in no way related to the experimental vaccine questioned by Mr Hooper (the "CHAT" vaccine)."

The WHO affirmed that modern vaccines are always tested before use and do not contain HIV or SIV.

"Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) is safe and effective and the recommended vaccine for the global effort to eradicate polio and certify the world polio-free by 2005."

WHO added that OPV was the only vaccine proven to stop transmission of the virus in developing countries.

"Using this vaccine, the global campaign to eradicate polio has achieved a more than 95 percent decrease in the number of polio cases world-wide in the twelve years since it was launched, and is on track to eradicate the disease," it added.