World AIDS: Origins

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from Edward Hooper at

"...the "oral polio vaccine" or "OPV" theory, proposes that AIDS began after batches of an experimental OPV called CHAT, which had been cultured in chimpanzee cells, were given to up to a million Africans from the DRC, Rwanda and Burundi in the latter half of the 1950s. This hypothesis is controversial, and is rejected by many medical scientists, including those who prepared and administered CHAT vaccine in Africa, and those whose articles and letters are published in Nature and Science, the world's two leading scientific journals.

The OPV theory is also rejected by many (though by no means all) of those involved in present-day public health programmes. Sadly, many of the latter seem to believe that questioning the safety of one particular experimental vaccine prepared fifty years ago is dangerous, because it might diminish public confidence in the efficacy and safety of modern-day vaccines. I believe this view is inherently wrong. There have indeed been occasional vaccine disasters down the years, but few who have examined the history of vaccination would argue with the view that the cost-benefit ratio is heavily in favour of vaccination, which technique has saved many millions of lives. However, I would argue that it is risky, and indeed profoundly wrong, to whitewash the history of CHAT vaccine in Africa in an attempt to protect the reputation of vaccination per se. Those who do this are not only guilty of sloppy scientific thinking, but also of convenient moral compromise. At the end of the day, they are more concerned with avoiding the perceived potential risks of multi-billion dollar law suits, and of protecting the reputations of colleagues, than of doing what they are supposed to do - which is to pursue the truth with clear and unbiased eyes."

from November 2010 Update by Edward Hooper:

"For what it's worth, my own theory - which is based on the earliest observed instances of HIV-1 infection and AIDS - is that by 1960 there were between ten and a few dozen people infected by HIV-1. I believe that these were not links in a chain of human infection affecting "thousands" of people and stretching back 50 years, but rather some of the first few unfortunate infectees with a recombined chimpanzee SIV that had contaminated different batches of a live [oral polio] vaccine grown in chimpanzee cells, and administered to hundreds of thousands of Africans in the last three years of the 1950s. Only a small proportion of those vaccinees (including those who were already immuno-compromised, or who had cuts in their mouths or bleeding gums) would have become infected by the chimpanzee SIV that contaminated the vaccine, and it is these persons who became the index infectees with the different clades of HIV-1(M) that are now called subtype A, subtype C and so on. The 12% genetic difference that Worobey observed between the 1959 and 1960 HIV-1 sequences does not represent 50 years of HIV-1 evolution, but rather the difference between two viral variants, the index cases of two clades of HIV-1, emerging from two different soups of recombined chimpanzee SIVs. Of course, there is no way for a molecular clock to be able to model an iatrogenic catastrophe such as that one. All a molecular clock can do in this instance is to fabricate a false prehistory for HIV, one that consciously or unconsciously fits with the preconceptions of the scientists calibrating the clock."

Read The River.

See also:

Polio vaccines and the origin of AIDS: some key writings

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