... As a precaution, Dr. Bernice Eddy, a researcher who worked for the National Institute of Health (NIH) in New Orleans, was ordered at the last minute to safe-test the Salk vaccine. Her finding was shocking: the vaccine itself could cause paralysis.
It heralded the biggest fiasco, to date, in the history of American medicine: unbelievably, the top dogs in the medical community decided to go ahead, anyway. [It is possible that this decision was based on a trade-off: some children would be paralyzed and some of them would die but many more would be protected from the disease.]
In a display of unimaginable arrogance, Ochsner, who had holdings in one of the five laboratories, inoculated his own grandchildren to demonstrate that the vaccine was safe. Both contracted polio. His granddaughter recovered from her paralysis but tragically his grandson died.
Estimates vary, but a significant number of other children also died or had permanent paralysis. Later on, in 1960, Dr. Albert Sabin was believed to have saved the day because his oral vaccine used a weakened virus rather than the dead virus used by Salk. Moreover, it had already been tested extensively in other countries. It began to be distributed here almost five years to the day that Americans had begun receiving the Salk inoculations.
About this time, another unsung heroine of American medicine, Dr. Sarah Stewart proved that a virus caused cancer. NIH officials, in an attempt to muzzle their whistleblower, had shifted Eddy, a close friend of Stewart's, from working on polio vaccine to doing research on influenza. Nevertheless, Eddy began to quietly perform more tests on polio vaccines.
At an October 1961 meeting in Manhattan of the New York Cancer Society, Eddy made a career-ending move. Without the consent of her superiors, she revealed an even more alarming discovery than her first: both polio vaccines were contaminated with a cancer-causing virus!
Another fiasco even bigger than the first! And one with far-reaching consequences. Between 1955 and 1963, millions of Americans had been injected with, or had swallowed, a substance that caused cancer. ...
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