Tests performed by three independent laboratories on 1950s-era polio vaccine samples from The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, PA, failed to find any traces of SIV, HIV-1, or DNA indicating that chimpanzee cells were used to prepare the vaccine, according to the scientist who coordinated the testing. Dr. Claudio Basilico, chairman of microbiology at New York University Medical Center and head of Wistar's external AIDS/Poliovirus Advisory Committee, announced the findings today at a Royal Society meeting in London entitled "Origins of HIV and the AIDS Epidemic."
Taken together, the findings provide strong evidence to refute the theory that an oral polio vaccine prepared at The Wistar Institute and administered to people in the then Belgian Congo in the late 1950s provided the route of transmission for HIV or HIV-related viruses from chimpanzees to humans, as has been proposed by Mr. Edward Hooper in his book The River (Little, Brown and Co., 1999).
A linchpin in Hooper's theory is the supposition that chimpanzee cells were used in the preparation of the vaccine. For this reason, it is significant that the tests identified DNA from only one species of primate - the Asian macaque monkey, not the chimpanzee - in the Wistar vaccine samples. The two former Wistar scientists who developed the vaccines, Dr. Hilary Koprowski and Dr. Stanley Plotkin, have long maintained that no chimpanzee cells were used in their preparation.
"There is nothing in the results from these
tests to support the theory that HIV entered the
human population during the late 1950s poliovirus
clinical trials in Africa," Dr. Basilico says. "The
different tests performed by the three independent
laboratories did not find any evidence of SIV or HIV
in the samples nor did they find chimpanzee DNA. In
fact, the laboratories were able to determine that
all of the
Contact: Franklin Hoke
The Wistar Institute