Hidden History of Polio Vaccine


by Tom Valentine
(Tom Valentine is a veteran health commentator. This is an excerpt from an 1996 article sent to me by Tony Blizzard.)

The story of the lessening of specific diseases is not cut and dry at all; there are variables and multiple factors–not merely vaccinations–to take into account when analyzing the record.

For example, paralytic polio was a scourge prior to the 1950’s (polio vaccine first arrived in 1955) and probably everyone in my generation can remember the March of Dimes campaigns with Eleanor Roosevelt leading the way. Well, today the scourge of “natural paralytic polio” has vanished due to unknown factors, but perhaps due to what molecular biologists today call “mutations due to gene drift” in the virus.

Epidemiological studies show that polio mortality declined by 82% prior to 1956 in England and Wales. The same pattern emerged in France. The vaccine had nothing to do with any of it. After 10 years of polio vaccine availability (1966), the overall statistics indicated that polio had returned to where it had been in the 1920’s. And today, it is argued that the only source of paralytic polio are the polio vaccines.

Regardless of why polio is no longer seen as a major threat, the history of the polio vaccines is one of horrific consequences that few Americans know anything about.

In his fascinating book “Mary, Ferrie and The Monkey Virus,” investigator-author Edward Haslam relates the dawning of the polio vaccine succinctly. With permission we reprint his brief description:

“Today, many Americans do not remember what a terrible curse “the polio epidemic” was upon the land. At its crest in the early 1950’s more than 33,000 Americans fell crippled or died slow, terrible deaths from polio each year. Most were children. The word ‘polio’ struck fear into the hearts of parents across America. It was a casually transmitted virus that first infected the lining of the intestines, then the blood stream, and finally the nervous system where it destroyed the victim’s brain stem. The difference between crippled and dead was determined by the extent of the damage to the brain stem. Cavernous hospital wards full of hideous looking machines called ‘iron lungs’ awaited patients who became to weak to breathe for themselves. President Franklin Roosevelt himself was crippled by polio before he entered the White House. The search for a polio vaccine became a national scientific effort supported by the most powerful political forces in the land. The problem was this: Polio was caused by a virus, not a bacterium, and viruses do not respond to antibiotics. So despite the spectacular success of antibiotics introduced to the American clinical scene in 1942, the medical community was powerless to stop this virus from crippling and killing.

A New York City lawyer close to President Roosevelt organized the March of Dimes and collected millions of dollars in coins from grade school children across the country to finance the research effort. The progress was encouraging. By the early 1950’s, American scientist Jonas Salk came forward with a brave new idea to eliminate all three strains of polio at once: Grow the polio viruses in the lab, kill them, then inject healthy children with the dead viruses. The dead viruses would not be able to reproduce, so they would not harm the children, but their immune systems would detect the presence of the invading viruses and would rally to defend the body, producing a hefty supply of antibodies in the process. Then the children’s fully armed immune systems would be ready to repel any live poliovirus that attacked them in the future. His trials in 1953 and 1954 were successful. Optimism about Salk’s vaccine reached its peak.

Five laboratories began producing the vaccine from a procedure Salk designed and accumulated a large enough supply for a mass inoculation, which was scheduled as a celebration for Franklin Roosevelt’s birthday. The results of years of research, millions of dollars of investment, and the fate of thousands of crippled children were ready for the most publicized and anticipated event in the history of medicine.

At the 11th hour, a bacteriologist at NIH was told to safety-test the new polio vaccine. Her name was Bernice Eddy. When she injected the vaccine into her monkeys, they fell paralyzed in their cages. Eddy realized that the virus in the vaccine was not dead as promised, but still alive and ready to multiply. It was time to sound the alarm. She sent pictures of the paralyzed monkeys to NIH’s management and warned them of the upcoming tragedy. A debate erupted in the corridors of power. Was the polio vaccine really ready? Should the mass inoculation proceed on schedule?

A handful of prominent doctors across the country stepped into the fray to throw the weight of their reputations on the side of the vaccine. One of these doctors was Mary Sherman’s boss, Dr. Alton Ochsner. (Editor’s note: Mary Sherman is the Mary in the book title and Alton Ochsner was one of the most prominent doctors in New Orleans where the secret monkey virus lab exposed by this book was located.) To demonstrate his conviction that the vaccine was really ready, Dr. Ochsner inoculated his own grandchildren with it.

The mass inoculation proceeded on schedule. Within days, children fell sick from polio, some were crippled, some died. Estimates vary dramatically. (The truth will never be known–TV) Ochsner’s grandson died. His granddaughter contracted polio but survived. An enormous lawsuit erupted. Heads rolled everywhere. The Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare (Oveta Hobby) stepped down. The Director of the National Institute of Health (NIH), Dr. William Sebrell, resigned. It was the biggest fiasco in medical history. A second, safer vaccine developed by Albert Sabin was deployed. It used a weakened live virus instead of a dead virus. It worked. Polio was history; the future was safe–or so it seemed.”

Before continuing with this historic information, let’s glance at a part of the factual aftermath of the polio vaccine debacle.

As a testimony to what is not known, lawyers have made big money representing victims of polio vaccine, and we have witnessed the two great names in polio vaccine–Salk and Sabin–pointing fingers at one another. First Dr. Sabin attacked the Salk vaccine, then later the son of Jonas Salk, Dr. Darrell Salk, testified on behalf of a man in Wichita, Kansas who won a jury award of $10 million back in 1982 because the Sabin oral vaccine Orimune, manufactured by Lederle Laboratories caused his paralytic polio.

In case you didn’t know about this, the father of an infant daughter, who was immunized with Sabin’s oral vaccine, contracted “irreversible bulbar poliomyelitis” paralyzing his lungs 10-12 days after the infant’s immunization.  Lederle was found negligent in not pointing out that non-immunized people faced an increased risk of contracting polio by coming into contact with anyone receiving the oral vaccine.

Most of this information was played down and few people know the story of the polio vaccine debacle. Instead, the public has been brainwashed to believe that the Salk and Sabin vaccines were, indeed, wonder drugs of the modern era.

Little Known Facts About Vaccines

Smallpox: Bringing a Dead Disease Back to Life

[excerpted from the 7th ed. of The Sanctity of Human Blood]


One Response

  1. katesisco says:

    could you tell me the history of polio before it became rampant? Before WWI?

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