OPV AIDS hypothesis

OPV AIDS hypothesis

The oral polio vaccine (OPV) AIDS hypothesis suggests that the AIDS pandemic originated from live polio vaccines prepared in rhesus macaque tissue cultures and then administered to up to one million Africans between 1957 and 1960 in experimental mass vaccination campaigns.[1][2]

Data analyses in molecular biology and phylogenetic studies contradict the OPV AIDS hypothesis; consequently, scientific consensus regards the hypothesis as disproven.[3][4][5][6] The journal Nature has described the hypothesis as "refuted".[7]


  • Background: polio vaccines 1
    • Oral polio vaccine 1.1
    • Vaccine production 1.2
  • Development of hypothesis 2
  • Scientific investigation 3
  • Current oral polio-vaccine campaign in Africa 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Background: polio vaccines

Two vaccines are used throughout the world to combat poliomyelitis. The first polio vaccine, developed by Jonas Salk, is an inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV), consisting of a mixture of three wild, virulent strains of poliovirus, grown in a type of monkey kidney tissue culture (Vero cell line), and made noninfectious by formalin treatment. The second vaccine, an oral polio vaccine (OPV), is a live-attenuated vaccine, produced by the passage of the virus through non-human cells at a sub-physiological temperature. The passage of virus produces mutations within the viral genome, and hinders the virus's ability to infect nervous tissue.[8]

Both vaccines have been used for decades to induce immunity to polio, and to stop the spread of the infection. However, OPV has several advantages; because the vaccine is introduced in the gastrointestinal tract, the primary site of poliovirus infection and replication, it closely mimics a natural infection. OPV also provides long lasting immunity, and stimulates the production of polio neutralizing antibodies in the pharynx and gut.[9] Hence, OPV not only prevents paralytic poliomyelitis, but also, when given in sufficient doses, can stop a threatening epidemic. Other benefits of OPV include ease of administration, low cost and suitability for mass vaccination campaigns.[8]

Oral polio vaccine

Oral polio vaccines were developed in the late 1950s by several groups, including those led by

External links

  1. ^ Courtois G, Flack A, Jervis GA, Koprowski H, Ninane G (July 1958). "Preliminary report on mass vaccination of man with live attenuated poliomyelitis virus in the Belgian Congo and Ruanda-Urundi". Br Med J 2 (5090): 187–190.  
  2. ^ LeBrun A, Cerf J, Gelfand HM, Courtois G, Plotkin SA, Koprowski H (1960). "Vaccination with the CHAT strain of type 1 attenuated poliomyelities virus in Leopoldville, Belgian Congo 1. Description of the city, its history of poliomyelitis, and the plan of the vaccination campaign" (PDF). Bull World Health Organ. 22 (3–4): 203–13. 
  3. ^ Hillis DM (2000). "AIDS. Origins of HIV". Science 288 (5472): 1757–1759.  
  4. ^ Birmingham K (2000). "Results make a monkey of OPV-AIDS theory". Nat Med 6 (10): 1067–1067.  
  5. ^ a b Cohen J (2001). "AIDS origins. Disputed AIDS theory dies its final death". Science 292 (5517): 615a–615.  
  6. ^ Origin of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV/AIDS) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website , Accessed 30 January 2007
  7. ^ a b Worobey M, Santiago M, Keele B, Ndjango J, Joy J, Labama B, Dhed'A B, Rambaut A, Sharp P, Shaw G, Hahn B (2004). "Origin of AIDS: contaminated polio vaccine theory refuted". Nature 428 (6985): 820–820.  
  8. ^ a b Kew O, Sutter R, de Gourville E, Dowdle W, Pallansch M (2005). "Vaccine-derived polioviruses and the endgame strategy for global polio eradication". Annu Rev Microbiol 59 (1): 587–635.  
  9. ^ Pearce J (2004). "Salk and Sabin: poliomyelitis immunisation". J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 75 (11): 1552–1552.  
  10. ^ a b Furesz J (2006). "Developments in the production and quality control of poliovirus vaccines – Historical perspectives". Biologicals 34 (2): 87–90.  
  11. ^ a b c Plotkin SA; Modlin, J. F.; Plotkin, S. A. (2001). "CHAT oral polio vaccine was not the source of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 group M for humans". Clin. Infect. Dis. 32 (7): 1068–1084.  
  12. ^ Koprowski H (July 1960). "Historical aspects of the development of live virus vaccine in poliomyelitis". Br Med J 2 (5192): 85–91.  
  13. ^ Plotkin SA, LeBrun A, Koprowski H (1960). "Vaccination with the CHAT strain of type 1 attenuated poliomyelitis virus in Leopoldville. Belgian Congo 2. Studies of the safety and efficacy of vaccination" (PDF). Bull World Health Organ 22 (3–4): 215–34. 
  14. ^ Plotkin SA, LeBrun A, Courtois G, Koprowski H (1961). "Vaccination with the CHAT strain of type 1 attenuated poliomyelitis virus in Leopoldville, Congo 3. Safety and efficacy during the first 21 months of study" (PDF). Bull World Health Organ 24 (6): 785–92.  
  15. ^ Enders, John (1955). "The present status of tissue-culture techniques in the study of poliomyelitis viruses". In Debré, R. Poliomyelitis (PDF). Geneva: World Health Organization. pp. 269–94. 
  16. ^ Rappaport, Catherine (1956). "Trypsinization of Monkey-Kidney Tissue: Automatic Method for the Preparation of Cell Suspensions" (PDF). Bull World Health Organ 14 (1): 147–66.  
  17. ^ Melnick, JL (1956) "Tissue culture methods for the cultivation of poliomyelitis and other viruses", in American Public Health Association, Diagnostic Procedures for Virus and Rickettsial Diseases 2nd ed., New York, pp. 97–151
  18. ^ Rhodes AJ, Wood W, Duncan D (1955). "The present place of virus laboratory tests in the diagnosis of poliomyelitis, with special reference to tissue-culture techniques". In Debré, R. Poliomyelitis (PDF). Geneva: World Health Organization. 237–67
  19. ^ a b c Plotkin SA (2001). "Untruths and consequences: the false hypothesis linking CHAT type 1 polio vaccination to the origin of human immunodeficiency virus". Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond., B, Biol. Sci. 356 (1410): 815–823.  
  20. ^  
  21. ^ Martin B (August 2003). "Investigating the origin of AIDS: some ethical dimensions". J Med Ethics 29 (4): 253–256.  
  22. ^ Plotkin SA, Teuwen DE, Prinzie A, Desmyter J (2001). "Postscript relating to new allegations made by Edward Hooper at The Royal Society Discussion Meeting on 11 September 2000". Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond., B, Biol. Sci. 356 (1410): 825–829.  
  23. ^ Koprowski H (2001). "Hypotheses and facts". Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond., B, Biol. Sci. 356 (1410): 831–833.  
  24. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0438938/
  25. ^ Aids and the Polio Vaccine Edward Hooper London review of Books 3 April 2003
  26. ^  
  27. ^  
  28. ^ Koprowski (1992). "AIDS and the Polio Vaccine". Science 257 (5073): 1024–1027.  
  29. ^ "Panel nixes Congo trials as AIDS source". Science 258 (5083): 738–9. 1992.  
  30. ^ Zhu T, Korber BT, Nahmias AJ, Hooper E, Sharp PM, Ho DD (1999). "An African HIV-1 sequence from 1959 and implications for the origin of the epidemic". Nature 391 (6667): 594–597.  
  31. ^ Cohen J (2000). "Forensic epidemiology. Vaccine theory of AIDS origins disputed at Royal Society". Science 289 (5486): 1850–1851.  
  32. ^ Blancou P, Vartanian J, Christopherson C, Chenciner N, Basilico C, Kwok S, Wain-Hobson S (2001). "Polio vaccine samples not linked to AIDS". Nature 410 (6832): 1045–1046.  
  33. ^ Berry N, Davis C, Jenkins A, Wood D, Minor P, Schild G, Bottiger M, Holmes H, Almond N (2001). "Vaccine safety. Analysis of oral polio vaccine CHAT stocks". Nature 410 (6832): 1046–1047.  
  34. ^ Rambaut A, Robertson DL, Pybus OG, Peeters M, Holmes EC (2001). "Human immunodeficiency virus. Phylogeny and the origin of HIV-1". Nature 410 (6832): 1047–1048.  
  35. ^ Poinar H, Kuch M, Pääbo S (2001). "Molecular analyses of oral polio vaccine samples". Science 292 (5517): 743–744.  
  36. ^ Korber B, Muldoon M, Theiler J et al. (2000). "Timing the ancestor of the HIV-1 pandemic strains". Science 288 (5472): 1789–96.  
  37. ^ Salemi M, Strimmer K, Hall WW et al. (2001). "Dating the common ancestor of SIVcpz and HIV-1 group M and the origin of HIV-1 subtypes using a new method to uncover clock-like molecular evolution". FASEB J. 15 (2): 276–8.  
  38. ^ Sharp PM, Bailes E, Chaudhuri RR, Rodenburg CM, Santiago MO, Hahn BH (2001). "The origins of acquired immune deficiency syndrome viruses: where and when?". Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond., B, Biol. Sci. 356 (1410): 867–876.  
  39. ^ Worobey M, Gemmel M, Teuwen DE et al. (October 2008). "Direct evidence of extensive diversity of HIV-1 in Kinshasa by 1960". Nature 455 (7213): 661–4.  
  40. ^ "News Africa". Reuters.com. Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  41. ^ Lemey P, Pybus OG, Rambaut A et al. (July 2004). "The molecular population genetics of HIV-1 group O". Genetics 167 (3): 1059–68.  
  42. ^ Weiss RA (2001). "Polio vaccines exonerated". Nature 410 (6832): 1035–1036.  
  43. ^ "HIV-1 in 1908?" AidsOrigins
  44. ^ Nigeria Muslims oppose polio vaccination BBC News 27 June 2002
  45. ^ Rumor, Fear and Fatigue Hinder Final Push to End Polio Celia W. Dugger and Donald G. McNeil Jr. New York Times 20 March 2006
  46. ^ a b Jegede AS (2007). "What led to the Nigerian boycott of the polio vaccination campaign?". PLoS Med. 4 (3): e73.  
  47. ^ BBC News (2005) "Anti-polio vaccine Malians jailed" online
  48. ^ Cohen, Jon (2000) Atlantic Monthly (Oct), p. 104.
  49. ^ Global Polio Eradication Initiative (2007) Map of last six months of polio cases worldwide Wild Poliovirus Weekly Update initiative of WHO, CDC, UNICEF, Rotary International online
  50. ^ BBC News (2007) "Bangladesh begins new polio drive" online


See also

Polio has also resurged in areas of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.[49][50]

By 2003, cases of poliomyelitis had been reduced to just a small number in isolated regions of West Africa, with sporadic cases elsewhere. However, the disease has since resurged in Nigeria and in several other nations of Africa, which epidemiologists trace to refusals by certain local populations to allow their children to be administered the Sabin oral vaccine. The expressed concerns of local populations often relate to fears that the vaccine might induce sterility,[47] and it seems that debate over the OPV-AIDS hypothesis has fueled additional fears.[48] Since 2003, these fears have spread among some in the Muslim community, with Datti Ahmed, of the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria stating that:

Rumours that polio vaccines are unsafe disrupted the longstanding effort of the WHO and UN to achieve poliomyelitis eradication worldwide through use of the oral polio vaccine of Albert Sabin, which is thought to be safe and effective by virtually all medical authorities. If this long-term public-health goal could be achieved, poliomyelitis would follow smallpox as the second eradicated infectious human disease. The OPV AIDS hypothesis relates only to the historical origin of AIDS, and its proponents have accepted the safety of the modern polio vaccines, but rumors based on a misunderstanding of the hypothesis exist,[44][45] and those rumors are blamed in part for the recent failure to eliminate polio in Nigeria.[46]

Current oral polio-vaccine campaign in Africa

Edward Hooper responded to these studies by either denying their relevance to the OPV hypothesis, disputing their accuracy, or asserting the existence of a "large organised cover-up".[43]

The possibility that chimpanzees found near Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Stanleyville) were, indirectly, the true source of HIV-1 was directly addressed in a 2004 study published in Nature. Here, the authors found that while SIV was present in chimpanzees in the area, the strain of SIV infecting these chimpanzees was phylogenetically distinct from all strains of HIV, providing direct evidence that these particular chimps were not the source of HIV in humans.[7]

The author of one of the studies, evolutionary biologist Edward Holmes of Oxford University, commented in light of the new evidence: "Hooper's evidence was always flimsy, and now it's untenable. It's time to move on."[5] An accompanying editorial in Nature concluded:

In 2001, three articles published in Nature examined various aspects of the OPV-AIDS hypothesis, as did an article published in Science. In every case, the studies' findings argued strongly against any link between the polio vaccine and AIDS.[32][33][34][35] The evidence cited included multiple independent studies that dated the introduction of HIV-1 to humans as occurring between 1915 and 1941, probably in the 1930s.[36][37][38] These results were confirmed by a later study using samples from the 1960s that also found that the epidemic began between 1908 and 1930,[39][40] and a study that showed that although recombination amongst viruses makes dating less precise, it does not significantly bias estimates in either direction (it does not introduce a systematic error).[41]

In 2000, the Royal Society held a meeting to discuss data on the origin of AIDS; the OPV AIDS hypothesis was a central topic of discussion. At this meeting, three independent labs released the results of tests on the remaining stocks of Koprowski's vaccine, which Edward Hooper had demanded in The River. The tests confirmed Koprowski's contention that his vaccine was made from monkey, rather than chimpanzee, kidney, and found no evidence of SIV or HIV contamination. Additional epidemiologic and phylogenetic data was presented at the conference which undermined other aspects of the OPV AIDS hypothesis. According to a report in Science, Hooper "did not challenge the results; he simply dismissed them." Brian Martin, a proponent of the OPV AIDS hypothesis, argued at the conclusion of the conference that if other AIDS-origin hypotheses were scrutinized in such detail, they would prove equally unsatisfying.[31]

The oldest confirmed sample of human tissue that shows the presence of HIV-1 is an archival sample of plasma collected from an anonymous donor in the city of Leopoldville, Belgian Congo (now Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo) in 1959.[30] Initial phylogenetic analyses, published in 1999, led the researchers to hypothesise that HIV-1 entered "into the African population not long before 1959."

In an August 1992 letter published in Science, Koprowski repudiated the OPV AIDS hypothesis, pointing to multiple errors of fact in its assertions.[28] In October 1992, Science ran a story titled "Panel Nixes Congo Vaccine as AIDS source," describing the findings of an independent panel which found each proposed step in the OPV-AIDS hypothesis "problematic". The story concluded:

The OPV AIDS hypothesis has been examined and criticized by members of the scientific and medical communities as being unsupported or directly contradicted by available data, and inconsistent with HIV epidemiology.

Scientific investigation

In his book, Hooper also stated that Gaston Ninane was involved in using chimpanzee cells to produce vaccine in Congo. Ninane responded to this allegation by stating that he could "categorically deny" ever having tried to make tissue cultures from chimpanzee cells.[11] The people involved in vaccine production and distribution from America state that no vaccine was prepared locally in Congo and that only the CHAT vaccine from America was used. Barbara Cohen, the technician who was responsible for running the American laboratory that produced this vaccine stated:

In 2003, Edward Hooper published additional statements that he believed supported his hypothesis in an article in the London Review of Books.[25] These included accounts of in interview with Jacques Kanyama, a virology technician at the lab in Stanleyville (the Laboratoire Médical de Stanleyville (LMS)) responsible for testing the CHAT vaccine and performing the initial set of vaccinations, who was reported to have said that batches of CHAT had been produced on site by Paul Osterrieth. In addition, Philip Elebe, a microbiology technician, was claimed to have said that tissue cultures were being produced from Lindi chimpanzees. Osterrieth has denied these claims and stated that this work would not have been possible in this laboratory,[26][27] stating that:

The Laboratoire Médical de Stanleyville was sited at the city now known as Kisangani

Journalist Edward Hooper detailed the hypothesis in his 1999 book, The River. Hooper further expanded on his allegations in a 2000 meeting in London, at the Royal Society, although these claims were later rebutted by some of the scientists who were present at the meeting.[22] In 2001, Hilary Koprowski responded by making a detailed rebuttal of the points made in the book, also in a talk to the Royal Society.[23] In 2004, the Origin of Aids, a French TV documentary strongly supportive of the OPV hypothesis, appeared on several television stations around the world.[24]

A few scientists, notably the biologist W.D. Hamilton, thought the hypothesis required serious investigation, but they received little support from the scientific community.

[21] in damages whilst incurring around $500,000 USD in legal fees for its own defense.USD was ordered to pay $1 Rolling Stone

In 1987, Blaine Elswood contacted journalist Tom Curtis about a "bombshell story" on OPV and AIDS. Curtis published an article on the OPV AIDS hypothesis in Rolling Stone in 1992.[20] In response, Hilary Koprowski sued Rolling Stone and Tom Curtis for defamation. The magazine published a clarification which praised Koprowski and stated:

Development of hypothesis

In the 1950s, before dangers inherent to the process were well controlled, seed stocks of vaccines were occasionally transported to distant regions, then standard tissue culture methods[15][16][17] were used to amplify the virus at local production facilities. Biologic products, chiefly kidney cells for cultures and blood serum for media, were sometimes harvested from local primates and used in the production process if wild or captive populations of appropriate species were available.[18] In South Africa, African green monkey tissue was used to amplify the Sabin vaccine. In French West Africa and Equatorial Africa, baboons were used to amplify a vaccine from the Pasteur Institute. In Poland, the CHAT vaccine was amplified using Asian macaques.[19]

Vaccine production

Between 1957 and 1960, Koprowski's vaccine was administered to roughly one million people in the Belgian territories, now the (p. 90) Koprowski and his group also published a series of detailed reports on the vaccination of 76,000 children under the age of 5 (and European adults) in the area of Leopoldville (now Kinshasa) in Belgian Congo from 1958–1960; these reports begin with an overview,[12] next a review of safety and efficacy,[13] then a 21-month follow-up and final report.[14]