The polio vaccine was rushed to market with devastating results- The Cutter Incident was just one problem with the rush job. SV40 was another (Simian Virus 40)
On Aug. 30, 1954, Bernice E. Eddy, a veteran scientist at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., was checking a batch of a new polio vaccine for safety.
Created by Jonas Salk, the vaccine was hailed as the miracle drug that would conquer the dreaded illness that killed and paralyzed children. Eddy's job was to examine samples submitted by the companies planning to make it. As she checked a sample from Cutter Laboratories in Berkeley, Calif., she noticed that the vaccine designed to protect against the disease had instead given polio to a test monkey. Rather than containing killed virus to create immunity, the sample from Cutter contained live, infectious virus. Something was wrong. "There's going to be a disaster," she told a friend. A look back to the 1955 polio vaccine tragedy shows how hazardous such a search can be, especially under intense public pressure.
Despite Eddy's warnings, an estimated 120,000 children that year were injected with the Cutter vaccine, according to Paul A. Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Eddy's warning were completely ignored. You just think about that? Let that idea roll around in your brain for a while...
Roughly 40,000 got "abortive" polio, with fever, sore throat, headache, vomiting and muscle pain. Fifty-one were paralyzed, and five died, Offit wrote in his 2005 book, "The Cutter Incident: How America's First Polio Vaccine Led to the Growing Vaccine Crisis."
It was "one of the worst biological disasters in American history: a man-made polio epidemic," Offit wrote.
Licenses were hurriedly granted to several drug companies, including Cutter Laboratories, to make the vaccine. But the officials granting the licenses were never told of Eddy's findings, Offit wrote.
The year before, Eddy's scrutiny of the Cutter vaccine had continued through the summer and fall.
Eddy was born in 1903 in Glen Dale, W.Va., a small town on the Ohio River, south of Wheeling, according to a 1985 biographical sketch by Elizabeth Moot O'Hern. Her father was a doctor.
She had started at NIH in 1937, had headed testing of vaccines for influenza, and in 1954 was asked to help test the Salk polio vaccine. The pressure was intense. "For weeks she and her staff worked around-the-clock, seven days a week," O'Hern wrote.
The pressure to create a vaccine was intense. Then as now.
"This was a product that had never been made before, and they were going to use it right away," Eddy had said.
History has that strange way of repeating when we forget the lessons it has previously taught us.
She began testing Cutter's samples in August 1954 and continued through November, according to a later report in the Congressional Record. She found that three of the six samples paralyzed test monkeys.
"What do you think is wrong with these monkeys?" she asked a colleague, Offit recounted.
"Theywere given polio," the colleague replied.
"No," Eddy said. "They were given the ... vaccine."
Eddy's discovery suggested that Cutter's manufacturing process was flawed. Its vaccine should have contained only killed virus.
She reported her findings to William Workman, head of the NIH Laboratory of Biologics Control.
But amid the scientific and bureaucratic chaos, Workman never told the licensing committee, Offit wrote.
The licensing committee was never informed of such urgently important information. And these are the same bureaucracies in existence to this day.
Starting on the evening of April 12, 1955, batches of the Salk vaccine made by five drug firms were shipped out in boxes marked "POLIO VACCINE: RUSH."
About 165,000 doses of Cutter's went out.
Within weeks, reports of mysterious polio infections started coming in.
On April 27, 7-year-old Susan Pierce, of Pocatello, Idaho, died of polio days after getting the Cutter vaccine. She had been placed in an iron lung just before she died. Her brother Kenneth had been vaccinated at the same time, but he was okay.
Other cases followed.
Alton Ochsner, a professor of surgery at Tulane Medical School and founder of the Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans, gave the vaccine to his grandson Eugene Davis, Offit wrote. The child died May 4.
Not only did some people injected with the tainted vaccine get sick, but some who got the vaccine went on to infect family members and neighbors.
On June 5, 1955, 33-year-old Annabelle Nelson of Montpelier, Idaho, died of polio after her two children had been given the vaccine in April, according to news reports at the time. The government ordered the Cutter vaccine withdrawn on April 27. But damage had been done.
"By April 30, within forty-eight hours of the recall," Offit wrote. "Cutter's vaccine had paralyzed or killed twenty-five children: fourteen in California, seven in Idaho, two in Washington, one in Illinois, and one in Colorado."
On May 6, all polio vaccinations were postponed. They were resumed on May 15 after the government had rechecked the vaccines for safety. But people were still frightened.
Years later, in a suit brought against Cutter, the firm was found not negligent in making its vaccine because it had done its best making a new drug that was complicated to produce.
But it was found financially liable for the calamity it had caused during that spring of 1955.
The jury foreman said: "Cutter Laboratories [brought] to market a ... vaccine which when given to plaintiffs caused them to come down with polio."
And here we are again. A rush job to bring yet another vaccine to market. For a virus that is not the deadly killer it has been made out to be. Despite however many "believe" the 24/7 fear porn.