The ‘Unknown’ About Polio Vaccine: SV40 and Cancer

By Catherine Frompovich

After half a century, the 108th U.S. Congress House of Representatives Subcommittee on Human Rights and Wellness finally held a hearing September 10, 2003, on the simian virus (SV40) that was included in the original polio vaccine produced and administered to children in the 1950s and 1960s.

Candidly, the first page of the transcript for the hearing states:

There is no dispute that millions of Americans received polio vaccines that were contaminated with the virus called Simian Virus 40, or SV–40. There also is no dispute that SV–40 is capable of causing cancer, but there is a major dispute as to how many Americans may have received the contaminated vaccine, with estimates ranging from 4 million to 100 million people. There is also a major dispute as to when the polio vaccine supply got cleaned up. In addition, nobody knows how many people got sick or died because of the contaminated vaccines.

In his opening statement, Subcommittee Chairman Dan Burton reiterated:

But there is a major dispute as to how many Americans may have received the contaminated vaccine with estimates ranging from 4 million to 100 million. There is also a major dispute as to when the polio vaccine supply got cleaned-up. In addition, nobody knows how many people got sick or died because of the contaminated vaccines.

One of the experts who testified, James Goedert, MD, said:

The virus was discovered in 1960 in rhesus macaque monkey kidney cells that were used in the production of the original Salk and Sabin polio vaccines (1). Since the mass immunization program for polio began in 1955, before the discovery of the virus, contaminated vaccine lots were inadvertently used for the first few years of the program.

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