Professor John P. Moore replies to “Plotkin’s chums (1)”

The following e-mail was received from Dr John P. Moore on November 24th, 2004. Entitled “Your recent diatribe”, it is a response to my essay entitled “Plotkin’s Chums (1)“.It reads as follows:

Dear Mr Hooper,  

I have been forwarded your recent posting:
"Plotkin's chums (1): Eminent scientists sign their names to falsehoods, in a bid
 to protect Stanley Plotkin and Hilary  Koprowski".   

I'm not going to spend much time on a matter  I regard as of little importance,
 but I will make a few points:  

1) I'm mortified by having signed my name to a letter that contains errors of 
punctuation and grammar and I concede that,  on this issue at least, you are 
in the right. I'll take the  appropriate measures to ensure there is no repetition, 
such  as enrolling in a remedial English class.    

2) While I may be guilty of the above mistakes, I am most  certainly not politically 
naive. I assumed that a letter of  this nature would be leaked to you, and frankly I 
couldn't  care less that it has been. It was not intended to be a secret,  at least 
not from my perspective.    

3) It is perfectly normal and acceptable behavior to assent  
to the contents of a letter drafted by someone else; there  is nothing "conspiratorial" 
about such an action.    

4) It is entirely possible to enter into a controversy situation  
as a neutral and to become polarized in one's views by the balance  of evidence. When I 
reviewed your book for Nature, I read it with  an open mind and wrote my review 
accordingly. You may not like my  opinion about your book (if you re-read my review 
you will see  that it was both flattering and not), but you should not assume that 
it was written by or for other scientists. Since then, I have  become convinced that 
you are wrong and that, worse, you are  misleading the public.    

5) I did not sign the aforementioned letter to "protect  Stanley Plotkin and Hilary 
Koprowski". These gentlemen are  eminently capable of looking after themselves, and 
they certainly  don't need my protection. Instead, I signed the letter because  I 
consider you to be a menace to public health. The public is  easily confused on 
scientific issues, and it is the responsibility  of professional scientists to minimize 
that confusion. A film as  biased as the one in dispute here stands to persuade members 
of the  public that your claims have merit, when I don't believe they do.  Although a 
letter to a film festival is unlikely to be decisive, o r any influential, it is 
something that I felt should be done.    

John Moore   
John P. Moore, Ph.D. Professor of Microbiology and Immunology  
Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University  
Department of Microbiology and Immunology  
1300 York Avenue, W-805 New York, NY 10021   
phone: 212-746-4462  fax 212-746-8340  

There are several interesting aspects to John P. Moore’s letter. Many of them were brought out by a friend of mine, a scientist at the University of London, to whom I forwarded Moore’s response, requesting his thoughts on it. His response, entitled “Moore – ad hominem, ad nauseam”, read as follows:

"Regarding Moore's email, I can't say I find it surprising. Most notably of course he 
fails to address any of the falsehoods that you pointed out in the original letter to 
which he was signatory. He totally ignores every single one. As to the abuse, I guess 
you're getting rather used to all that, but "a menace to public health" is rather 
damning and so very far from the truth! As is "misleading the public". Even if the 
OPV/AIDS theory is wrong (and I don't think it is) the way you have approached this 
is examplary and has opened everyone's eyes to what has been and is still going on 
in the medical and scientific arenas.  It's odd that he attaches "little importance" 
to the subject, yet is willing to write to a film festival regarding it. His sarcasm 
about the bad spelling/punctuation is mis-placed. You were only ever pointing out 
that this was a common factor between the different letters, rather than taking the 
individual writers to task on this (trivial) issue.  As to there being "nothing 
conspiratorial" about the letters, I would be inclined to disagree. Surely by 
coming together to achieve the same (misleading) end, they must by definition be 
"conspiring".  His reasons for signing do not sound very truthful. If he really wanted 
to "minimize that confusion" he could do it in a much more straightforward and honest 
fashion.  It does clearly show what you're up against! Nothing else to do but keep up 
the fight.  
Best wishes...."

In addition to these very welcome comments, I would like to add the following thoughts of my own.

Despite welcoming the more civil tone of this letter (a marked contrast to the blind rage of John Moore’s two previous e-mails to me), I find that I disagree with almost every aspect of his letter, from the false modesty of his point (1) to the unpleasant and inappropriate accusations (“a menace to public health”) that he is unable to resist inserting towards the end.

One subject, however,on which I do agree with Moore is that there is nothing innately wrong in signing one’s name to the contents of a letter drafted by someone else. That said, there clearly is something wrong with doing this if the letter in question contains distortions and untruths, which, as I have made clear in the essay, this one does. Furthermore, Moore knows that it does. His protestations of innocence are therefore evasive and disingenuous.

I do not believe that Moore had an open mind when he wrote the Nature review. What I know is that one of the scientists with whom Moore spoke about The River during his drafting of his Nature review felt that even at that stage he was gunning for the book. I think that this innate bias is revealed in the published review, a bias that is even more frankly revealed in statements he made soon after this, for instance in the review which he posted anonymously on [see below].

Moore’s claims that he attaches “little importance” to the subject echo the claims he made in letters to newspapers in the year 2000, shortly before the Royal Society meeting, in which he slammed The River, belittled the origins debate, and loudly asserted that he was not going to appear at the meeting because he had better things to do with his time. (He neglected to mention that he had not even been invited as a full speaker.) In the end, when he discovered that all the major scientists in the field were going, Moore did after all attend the meeting and, while there, apparently provided support and sustenance to the Plotkin camp. Furthermore, during the months preceding and following the meeting he made repeated attempts, both public and private, to influence others against the OPV hypothesis. These are not the actions of a man who attaches “little importance” to the subject. They are the actions of a frank propagandist for Plotkin, and of a man who’s a bit of a hypocrite, too.

The central plank of Moore’s e-mail seems to be his attempt to argue that he has acted, and is acting, in this matter in good faith. I would question that. It may be, of course, that Moore genuinely believes that he must be right simply because he is a “professional scientist”, and I am not. However, I don’t think he is that naive. A man who is intelligent (as Moore undoubtedly is) and wise would most certainly take the trouble to educate himself in his subject before making public pronouncements about it. Yet, though he is very well-educated in the field of AIDS vaccines, John Moore is manifestly not well-educated in the origins-of-AIDS debate.

The scientific “evidence” against the OPV theory on which he relies is creaky at best, and at worst non-existent. (He is undoubtedly aware of at least some of the flaws and shortcomings in that evidence, but he ignores anything that doesn’t fit with his position.) The testimonial evidence that he has already seen in the “Origins of AIDS” film is overwhelmingly against Koprowski and Plotkin – and there is a great deal more of it besides. His only counter-argument is to attempt, rather weakly, to discredit that testimony.

For whatever reason, John Moore is fighting on the wrong side in this debate.

With his assertion that “I am most certainly not politically naive”, I believe that Moore goes some way towards admitting that he acts knowingly in this debate – and that his manipulation and distortion of facts are part of a conscious attempt to achieve certain political ends. What are those ends? I think Moore’s position is that the OPV theory must be opposed, come what may, because if widely accepted it would innately harm people’s faith in vaccines in general. Thus Moore is able to rationalise that his actions are “for the greater good”, meaning that (whatever new evidence is presented to support the OPV theory) he will continue to oppose it by fair means or foul.

One of the repeated tactics used by Plotkin and Koprowski (a tactic which is then parroted by acolytes such as Moore), has been to claim that there is evidence that The River has deterred people, in recent times, from taking polio vaccines. I have investigated every example of their so-called evidence on this subject. Certain of the so-called supporting articles are incorrectly referenced (a ploy that is a favourite of Dr Koprowski who, when he doesn’t have a reference to support a certain argument, seems to have no scruples about fabricating one. I now have several examples of his doing this.) But not one of these referenced articles actually states what Plotkin and Koprowski claim. In reality, there is not a single piece of evidence to link rejection of modern polio vaccines in places like Kenya and Nigeria to the OPV theory – a theory which raises questions about the safety only of one particular vaccine, an experimental polio vaccine given to a million Africans in the 1950s. As I have repeated at every opportunity for the last five years: as far as is known, modern polio vaccines are safe. What Plotkin, Koprowski, Moore and the others are engaged in is a smear campaign.

A clue to what Professor John P. Moore is really after can be found in his Amazon review of The River, copied below. In it, he writes that: “Great damage could easily be caused to ongoing efforts to make AIDS vaccines for use in Africa if a climate of mistrust with western medicine is created by this book.” Moore apparently likes to think of himself as a bit of an iconoclast, a plain-speaking free-thinker, but this reveals him rather as a dyed-in-the-wool conservative, determined to protect the hegemony at all costs. He fails properly to address the question of whether the OPV theory has merit. His bottom line is a much simpler one: that theories which might encourage the general public to question the wisdom and integrity of scientists and vaccine-makers are not things to be welcomed. What, it seems, is vital from his perspective is that the apple-cart not be upset, and that Joe and Joanna Public should not be encouraged to question the safety of the next vaccine on the horizon.

John Moore spends most (but sadly not all) of his time working on AIDS vaccines, and his research in that field is valuable and welcome. (That said, it should be borne in mind that not only persons vulnerable to HIV would benefit from a successful AIDS vaccine, but also the doctors and pharmaceutical companies who develop it.) However, Moore’s interventions in the OPV debate are very different, and they only encourage the perception that all too many modern-day scientists lack a basic sense of integrity.

My main objection to John Moore is that he likes to present himself as an educated neutral in this debate. He is not. He is ignorant of (or is it just ignoring?) most of the salient information in this debate, be it historical or scientific. In reality, he is something quite different. He is a belligerent propagandist for those who planned and carried out the tests and trials in central Africa in the 1950s, most notably Hilary Koprowski and Stanley Plotkin.

In summary, John Moore’s latest e-mail to me fails to address any of the charges of inaccuracy and misrepresentation that I have made against him. Stripped of its spin, his response is merely an attempt to justify the dubious and partisan role that he has played in this debate over the last five years.

Ed Hooper. December 17th, 2004.

An review of “The River” by “a reader”.

39 of 65 people found the following review helpful:

Don’t believe the central idea in this book, November 15, 1999

Reviewer: A reader

“I write as a professional AIDS researcher and retrovirologist. While “The River” is a wonderful read on the earliest stages of the AIDS epidemic that continues to devestate Africa, I urge readers not to believe the central idea that the author promulgates. HIV did not enter the human population from contaminated polio vaccines, and to argue that it did is irresponsible, based on the scientific evidence available. Great damage could easily be caused to ongoing efforts to make AIDS vaccines for use in Africa if a climate of mistrust with western medicine is created by this book. One should never confuse speculation with real, hard facts, but while “The River” is long on the former, it is very, very short of the latter. The chain of events proposed by the author is improbable, to say the least; only one link has to break before the edifice falls, and none of the links is strong. The author would have us believe that chimp kidneys were used to prepare poliovirus vaccines, but he can’t prove his point, only theorize. He argues that the kidneys were contaminated with chimp viruses that were precursors of HIV. But where’s the evidence? And kidney cultures are very, very poor (at best) ways to grow HIV and its simian cousins. The timing of the cross-over of HIV from animals into humans is also wrong; this occurred decades prior to the poliovaccine experiments of the late 1950’s, as will become clear in scientific publications early next year. And there was no “cover-up” in the scientific community. This makes no sense; what would have been the motivation in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s for polio vaccine researchers to disguise what they did? Nobody knew about HIV then. So, read this book by all means; if it awakens your conscience to the appalling situation that Africa faces over the AIDS epidemic then it will have done some good. But please don’t believe that the epidemic was started by polio vaccination campaigns. That part of the book is on a par with “scientific investigations” of the Loch Ness Monster or the existence of human faces on Mars in terms of its overall credibility within the community of professional AIDS researchers.”

[Hooper’s response to the foregoing review.]

This review was posted by “a reader” on the web-site just two months after the Nature review was published. The reviewer chose to remain anonymous, though he rather gave the game away by announcing that he was “a professional AIDS researcher and retrovirologist”, and by using exactly the same devices and phrases which Moore has employed in his other published comments about the book.

I believe that much of this review is innately prejudiced. It claims categorically that various aspects of the book are “wrong”, when in fact what it means is that the reviewer surmises that they are wrong. It raises four specific scientific objections to the theory – and in each instance, amusingly, it is Moore’s argument, not mine, which is now revealed as flawed. A good illustration of this is the sentence in which Moore claims that “kidney cultures are very, very poor (at best) ways to grow HIV and its simian cousins”, an assertion that was completely refuted by research published just one year later, which found that HIV replicates very nicely in kidney epithelial cells. (Moore himself reviewed that research in an accompanying editorial, and concluded that it didn’t really matter with respect to the OPV theory, because – as he claimed, again wrongly – chimp kidneys had not been used to make the Congo vaccine anyway. By adopting circular arguments such as these, Moore avoids ever having to confront his own errors and false assumptions.)

It is my belief that John Moore’s Nature review of The River was balanced and fair in certain places, but that its underlying drift was clearly biased. His Amazon review, however, was a blatant attempt to prejudice others, including potential readers, against the book: an attempt that was based on false and misleading evidence. I believe that despite his claims to the contrary, John Moore has been innately opposed to The River, and to the OPV/AIDS theory, from the off.

EH December 17th, 2004.

The Annexing of the Stanleyville Samples

The annexing of the Stanleyville samples: potential “fossil evidence” of ancient HIV-1 falls into the wrong hands


In July 2003 and February 2004, I posted essays on the Web which featured warnings that scientists associated with the Catholic University of Leuven (known as KUL in Belgium), and with Hilary Koprowski’s aide-de-camp, Stanley Plotkin, had been attempting to annexe 1950s biopsy and autopsy samples found in the basement of the old Laboratoire Medicale de Stanleyville (LMS), in what is now Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of Congo.[1]

On May 1st, 2004 I posted a further essay on this site which confirmed the worst. This article ended with a section entitled: “Concern about possible faking of an ancient HIV-1 sample”[2], which confirmed that a team led by Stanley Plotkin had indeed managed to obtain some of the Stanleyville samples.

I recently received a package of documents from an anonymous source which revealed further worrying details about how these doctors went about obtaining these samples.

What the new documents reveal

At this stage, I am not prepared to reveal all the significant details that emerge from these papers.

However, some of this information does need to be placed promptly in the public domain.

  1. The papers include details about a meeting that took place in Jan Desmyter’s office at the Virology Department of KUL in April 2001, soon after the agronomist, Professor Hugo Gevaerts, returned from a 3-week visit to Kisangani (formerly Stanleyville) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Professor Gevaerts, who was born in Stanleyville, visits Kisangani annually, and is the major conduit for Belgian government assistance to such institutions as the University of Kisangani. He is therefore an extremely influential man in that city.
  2. The meeting featured Desmyter, Gevaerts, Dirk Teuwen and Dudu Akaibe, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Kisangani. (Desmyter and Teuwen are two of the three members of Stanley Plotkin’s defence team against the OPV theory, while Gevaerts and Akaibe are their main collaborators in the DRC. One of the documents describes Akaibe as follows: “Second to Gevaerts, he is our best man in Kisangani.”)
  3. In addition, Simon Wain-Hobson was invited to attend the meeting, but was unable to do so. Instead, Desmyter raised the possibility that Wain-Hobson might be able to link in to the meeting by phone; we do not know if this actually happened. What is clear from the documents, however, is that Wain-Hobson had been fully briefed about the Stanleyville samples, and was collaborating with the Plotkin/Desmyter team, presumably through having offered to test the samples for the presence of HIV (and perhaps other viruses too). This collaboration is not entirely surprising, for it is increasingly apparent that Wain-Hobson (one of the co-organisers of the Royal Society meeting in September 2000) has been “close” with the Plotkin group for some time. The only significant question is when that process began, but there are several strands of evidence which suggest that it started even before the Royal Society meeting.
  4. The key paper in the report is marked as being confidential to Desmyter, Gevaerts, Teuwen, Wain-Hobson, and Plotkin. This reveals that those present at the meeting were effectively reporting directly to Stanley Plotkin.
  5. The papers reveal that ongoing attempts to obtain the Stanleyville samples were to be funded by Aventis Pasteur, as was the participation of Dudu Akaibe in the project. Aventis Pasteur is the name for the Pasteur Institute’s vaccine-related business, which was previously known as Pasteur Merieux Connaught Vaccines, and Dirk Teuwen is an Aventis employee who was apparently put on paid sabbatical by that company, in order to assist Stanley Plotkin oppose the OPV theory. Professor Plotkin was Medical and Scientific Director of Pasteur Merieux Connaught Vaccines until that organisation was merged with Aventis in 2001. At that stage, it seems, he stepped down from the directorship to assume the more honorary title of “medical and scientific advisor”.
  6. In the years since 2001, Plotkin has continued to describe himself as a member of Aventis Pasteur when he attends conferences on such issues as the bioterrorist threat. Intriguingly, however, in matters to do with the origins of AIDS (such as the Royal Society proceedings, published in July 2001), he tends to describe himself only as a member of the Wistar Institute and the University of Pennsylvania. The timing of Plotkin’s ceasing to be director of the company is interesting, in that it seems to tie in rather well with his decision to focus on attempts to disprove and/or discredit the OPV/AIDS hypothesis. To date, such attempts have been based on distortion, misinformation and untruth. Put in crude terms, by distancing himself from Aventis Pasteur, Plotkin may feel that he has freed himself up to “fight dirty”. What these latest documents reveal, however, is important – that Aventis Pasteur is actively helping to fund the battle to “disprove” the OPV hypothesis by any means, fair or foul.
  7. The papers make clear just what a remarkable discovery the Dean of Medicine of the University of Kisangani, Dr Kayembe, had made in the basement of the old Laboratoire Medicale de Stanleyville [LMS] building. According to the documents, these archival materials featured (a) glass slides of human biopsies numbered from 1 to 30,000, and covering the years from 1939 to 1960; it is unclear how many are still extant; (b) a chest three metres long and two metres high, containing paraffin blocks taken at biopsy (and presumably autopsy); apparently labels featuring year and biopsy number were “partially preserved”; (c) three large registers from 1955 and 1956, cross-referencing all biopsy samples taken in Stanleyville during that period. Apparently no other registers could be found.
  8. The papers state that, “with full permission”, Hugo Gevaerts selected 200 of the slides and an unknown number of the paraffin blocks to take with him from Kisangani to Belgium, and that only later did the Rector of the University, Professor Mango Adibi, backtrack, and order Gevaerts “to empty his bag” and leave the archival materials behind in Kisangani. The document ascribes this sudden change of heart to my unexpected arrival in Kisangani, accompanied by two journalists; (this was in fact the MFP film crew).
  9. Yet the version of events that I heard (supported by two different witnesses) was significantly different. This was that, a day or two before my arrival, the Rector of the University accompanied Gevaerts to the office of the Dean of the Medical Faculty, Dr Kayembe, who was “up-country” for a few days, and ordered that a locked cupboard containing some of the samples should be opened, so that Gevaerts could take what he wanted. Gevaerts took blocks and slides, and recorded what he had taken. When Kayembe returned, he objected strongly to the seizing, without his permission, of the material that he himself had located in the basement. The Rector convened a meeting of deans of science and medicine, and senior professors, at which Kayembe continued to object, and so the Rector concluded that on this occasion Gevaerts should take nothing with him: the materials would be returned to Kayembe, and placed under lock and key once more. At the same time, however, a wave of anti-Hooper, anti-River feeling had been whipped up at the meeting (apparently by the professors of the Faculty of Science, perhaps with the Rector’s acquiescence), and so the Rector closed by making a clear undertaking that he would not in any way help or collaborate with me.
  10. Accompanied by the co-director of the film, Peter Chappell (who speaks fluent French), I had a meeting with the Rector and three of his senior professors (including two from the science faculty) a day or two after this. With varying degrees of finesse and rudeness, they made it clear that they would not help our researches in any way. As I recall, much of the reasoning was circuitous and even illogical: we got the clear impression that (for whatever reason) they were determined to block our research in any way possible. The Rector even refused permission for us to set foot inside the old Laboratoire Medicale de Stanleyville building (which is now part of University property). I was taken aback by this, not least because I had met and spoken cordially with one of these professors two years earlier, when I was with Bill Hamilton. The response now was: “Hamilton is dead. If you want us to collaborate with you, come back here in the company of a living scientist.”
  11. The documents go a long way towards explaining why we encountered such implacable opposition. They reveal that in “1999/2000”, there were two significant developments with regard to foreign aid to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and specifically to the University of Kisangani. First, a team of Belgian professors visited the DRC to allocate Belgian government money (AGCD funds) for African cooperation, and ended up giving three times more to the Faculty of Sciences in Kisangani than to any other project in the country; by contrast, the Faculty of Medicine in that city apparently got nothing. Second, the WHO decided to establish two WHO Public Health and Reference labs in the DRC, and (rather strangely) allocated part of the money to the Faculty of Sciences (not Medicine) in Kisangani. [The other recipient was the INRB, the Institut National de Recherches Biologiques, a lab started by the French in the 1990s in the capital, Kinshasa, which is staffed by French military doctors.]
  12. What this account neglects to mention is that Gevaerts was the leading figure in the team of Belgian professors that allocated the AGCD funds, and that the funds for the Science faculty were lavish, and included money for computers and bicycles. The Rector and some of the science deans were apparently among those who benefited personally. So although one of the documents claims that Gevaerts had nothing to do with our exclusion from the old LMS building, what is very clear is that these men knew which side their bread was buttered.
  13. The documents also reveal that at the April 2001 meeting in Leuven, a follow-up plan was devised to gain access to the archival materials that Gevaerts had selected, but had had to leave behind. Once Akaibe (now funded by Aventis Pasteur money) had returned to Kisangani, he would check whether the Dean of Medicine, Kayembe, still had the materials in question, and then he would fax this information back to Desmyter. Then Desmyter would arrange with the Dean of Medicine at the University of Leuven, Professor J. Janssens, to invite Kayembe to Leuven for two to three weeks of discussions with the Leuven deans, with Desmyter, and possibly with the Rector of KUL, about future cooperation. It would be made clear that the invitation depended on Kayembe bringing with him the specimens which Gevaerts had selected for testing. Desmyter goes on to say that Janssens would never approve this plan if it involved faculty money. However, Desmyter makes it clear that “the Aventis Pasteur dollars” should take care of this, apart from which he knows of certain other funds that are available. (This latter may possibly be a reference to private funds from Koprowski and/or Plotkin.)
  14. One additional comment about Hugo Gevaerts. In a phone interview with me in 2003, Gevaerts insisted that he had never had any of the blocks and slides in his possession. Similarly, Gevaerts told a researcher from MFP in 2001 that he was not directly involved with the attempt to obtain blocks and slides, but had only been trying to help out other scientists. These papers make it clear that he is, in fact, an active collaborator with the other scientists in the Plotkin/Desmyter group. Such contradictions confirm that Professor Gevaerts does not always tell the truth. I suspect that a further example of such behaviour may have been Gevaerts’s indignant denial on the phone to me that he had ever visited the site of Lindi camp – a denial that is contradicted by several other witnesses. These witnesses indicate that about a week before my own visit to Lindi in April 2001, Gevaerts and two African colleagues visited the site of the camp, in order to interview some of those who had taken part in the chimpanzee research. These and other sources say that a day or two after Gevaerts’s visit, one of his African colleagues returned, and spoke privately with the local village chief, after which a large sign which had been positioned on top of a sealed sewage outfall from Lindi camp was cut from its bolts and removed. The sign apparently featured a lot of words in a “foreign language” (which could be either French or English, more probably the former).
  15. Jan Desmyter is not unaware of the importance of these samples. In the key document, he describes the subject of the April 2001 meeting as follows: “Archives of ‘Origins of AIDS’ interest at the Laboratoire Medicale, Kisangani.” He knows that these archival materials represent unprecedented access to the “primary rock face” which, in this instance, means body tissues from the Belgian Congo from the mid-1950s, and not just from the Congo, but specifically from Stanleyville, the headquarters of the Koprowski vaccine trials. I believe Jan Desmyter is well aware that the rock layers may include important fossils, including fossil evidence of ancient HIV-1.
  16. One last point. In my discussions in Kisangani (Stanleyville) in 2001, the impression I was given was that all the biopsy samples dated from 1955 onwards. Now this documentary evidence seems to indicate that some of them date from as early as 1939. I have, therefore, to acknowledge the possibility that these documents might conceivably have been leaked to me deliberately, in order to validate the claim that they include materials from the thirties and forties. I believe this to be unlikely, but worthy of mention none the less.

Why Plotkin, Desmyter and Wain-Hobson should not have been involved with testing the Stanleyville samples

The archival Stanleyville samples represent a potential gold mine, but they should undoubtedly have been tested for the presence of HIV and other viruses by neutral scientists.

I now have evidence (which will be published in due course) that Hilary Koprowski was testing his polio vaccines in Stanleyville from (at the latest) 1955 onwards, not 1957 as previously assumed. 300 persons (at the least) received versions of Koprowski vaccines in Stanleyville before the formal start of the CHAT vaccine trials in February 1957.

Should any early isolates of HIV-1 be found among the samples pre-dating, or post-dating, the start of the Stanleyville OPV trials (which I believe to have been in 1955), this could throw significant light on the origins of the AIDS pandemic.

For instance, if an HIV-1 isolate dating from before 1955 was detected in the Stanleyville samples, this might indicate that HIV and AIDS existed before the OPV trials. However, in the current situation, extreme caution would be required, because of the possibility of one of these samples being “transposed” to an earlier period in time [see below].

However, if genuine isolates of HIV-1 were not detected in Stanleyville between 1939 and 1954, but were only detected from 1955 onwards, this would strongly suggest that the virus had been introduced by a new factor – such as the Koprowski vaccines.

Unfortunately, the very last people that should have been testing these samples are doctors Plotkin, Desmyter and Wain-Hobson, all of whom have been revealed (on this site, and elsewhere) as being active collaborators in the attempt to suppress the OPV/AIDS theory through fair means or foul. The fact that they have obtained these samples in a furtive and clandestine manner only raises further concerns about their intentions.

In the past, several of these scientists have grievously misrepresented the truth in their attempts to prove that the activities of Koprowski and Plotkin in Africa in the 1950s were not linked to the birth of AIDS.

I believe that these are men with strong vested interests in the origins-of-AIDS debate, and there is no way that they can be considered as independent or neutral investigators. Their method of obtaining and subsequent treatment of the Stanleyville samples can only be viewed within the context of an attempted cover-up.

Given this background, if one of them did discover an early HIV-1 among the Stanleyville samples that post-date the OPV trials, would we expect that individual to report the discovery? Or suppress it?

Indeed, there is an even more worrying scenario. Might not one of these scientists be tempted to insert an HIV-positive sample from Stanleyville from (say) 1957 into a series that pre-dated the OPV trials – for instance by presenting it as one of the Stanleyville samples from (say) 1941, or 1952? Or, indeed, a sample from Franceville, or Brazzaville, from the same time period?

A series containing such a mislabelled sample could then be tested (in good faith) by an entirely independent scientist, and used in an attempt to prove that AIDS predated the Koprowski vaccine trials.

Given that the stakes are so very high, and might involve not just the ruination of reputations but also billion-dollar law-suits, the latter possibility may be less far-fetched than it might at first seem.

What honest scientists would have done

Since it first became clear to me (in April 2001) that the Plotkin/Desmyter group was trying to obtain these samples, and since it also became clear that they had collaborators acting for them among the senior hierarchy at the University of Kisanagani, I have regarded it as almost inevitable that they would eventually succeed in obtaining at least some of the samples.

The fact that they have done so was confirmed to me a Belgian professor, Paul Gigase, earlier this year [2004], and he made it clear that the Plotkin/Desmyter group had already had the samples for some time. It is not known whether they were obtained through Professor Kayembe or not, but certain evidence suggests to me that he may not have been involved, at least directly. During our conversation, Professor Gigase expressed surprise and concern that the Desmyter group had not yet announced anything about the samples; the manner in which he spoke suggested that he too was concerned about possible foul play.

My personal guess is that the Plotkin/Desmyter group has been in possession of these samples since 2002 at latest – in other words, for at least two years. During that time, they must have had substantial opportunity to test the samples for HIV.

If they had had an interest in conducting (and being seen to conduct) these tests in an independent and impartial fashion, then immediately after obtaining the samples (or even before), one of their number could have contacted either Brian Martin or myself, and invited us to nominate another scientist to test aliquots of the samples in tandem with Desmyter and/or Wain-Hobson. If this had happened, and if (in broad terms) both pro-OPV and anti-OPV scientists had been involved in the testing, then the testing process would then have stood a good chance of being widely viewed as “free and fair”.

Instead of this, these scientists obtained their samples in clandestine fashion, and since then have announced nothing. This means that the integrity of the samples, as items of historical record, may well have been compromised. Any amount of tampering or relabelling could have taken place, and we would be none the wiser.

Some questions that need to be asked about the bushmeat theory

Those scientists (like Plotkin, Desmyter and Wain-Hobson) who insist that the OPV theory must be wrong all subscribe to some version of the “bushmeat” or “cut hunter” theory, which proposes that pandemic AIDS began as a result of a single transfer of chimpanzee SIV to a human – perhaps a bushmeat-hunter or bushmeat-seller with cuts on his or her hands. However, this theory contains rather a large number of logical flaws.

Evidence derived from the genetic analysis of different HIV-1 strains indicates that recombination between different HIV-1 subtypes occurred early in the history of HIV-1.[3] Bushmeat proponents suggest that this might have happened when people infected with different HIV-1 subtypes met and had sex in the early days of the epidemic,[4] (perhaps in or around the 1950s). This strikes me as extremely far-fetched, for at the start of the epidemic, the chances of any two different subtypes of HIV-1 meeting in that way (let alone several, which is what this theory requires) would have been infinitesimally small.

And there is another hitch. From the perspective of the bushmeat theory (which assumes a single chimp-to-human transfer giving birth to pandemic HIV-1), how would such different subtypes have evolved from the index infectee in the first place, especially when (according to bushmeat theory logic) this must have happened in the space of perhaps 25 years, at most?

Add to these a third leap of faith required by bushmeat advocates – that the initial transfer occurred (as they claim) in Gabon, Cameroon or Congo Brazzaville, and yet the pandemic (as is now universally acknowledged) had its epicentre in the Belgian Congo/DRC – and it becomes apparent that the bushmeat theory is built on sand.

What the bushmeat advocates actually require for their theory to be viable are three extraordinary (and almost inexplicable) coincidences.

To my mind, the only credible explanation for the recombination of viruses at, or very near, the start of the AIDS pandemic would have been via a tissue culture derived from several different chimps, at least two of which were infected with different variants of SIV.

Apparently that’s all it would have required to engender the different subtypes of HIV-1, and the global epidemic witnessed today.[3]

A final word of warning

Even if a genuine isolate of “early HIV-1”, or chimpanzee SIV, is ever found in human sera or tissues dating from before 1955, this would not in itself represent hard evidence that the “birth of AIDS” predated the OPV trials. This is because casual transfer of SIVs from chimps to humans probably has occurred on several occasions during the last couple of million years, but that prior to the twentieth century it apparently never resulted in a human epidemic. It is certainly theoretically possible that a person such as a hunter or a bushmeat-seller could become transiently infected with a chimpanzee SIV. What is important, however, is whether that person passed it on to others as a human-adapted virus: a virus that was both infectious and pathogenic (i.e. could cause AIDS).

An example of HIV-1, apparently dating from 1959, was discovered in 1985, but since then nobody has managed to locate an earlier sample. If a more ancient variant of HIV-1 is ever found, its genetic sequence must therefore be carefully compared to modern strains to see whether it could conceivably have been ancestral to the present-day pandemic. The alternative is that it might have been a chimpanzee SIV that transiently infected one individual – a virus that was planted, but failed to grow, in Homo sapiens. Whether or not it caused any disease, such a virus would have ceased its brief existence as a “human virus” when its human host died.


Trials of Koprowski vaccines were already taking place in Stanleyville in 1955.

It is a matter of public record (reported in a paper by Paul Osterrieth, head of virology at the LMS) that there were several fatal Klebsiella pneumoniae cases in Stanleyville in the second half of the 1950s; this outbreak can only have occurred after Osterrieth arrived in that city, in July 1956. There was also, according to Pierre Doupagne, a sudden dramatic rise in Candida albicans infections in Stanleyville in the late fifties. Both of these are among the small group of infections that are typical opportunistic infections of AIDS.

I personally believe that some of the samples obtained at the Laboratoire Medicale de Stanleyville from 1955 onwards (at least some of which are now in the possession of the Desmyter/Plotkin/Wain-Hobson group) may contain examples of the earliest HIV-1 infections in the world. The donors of such tissues would, I believe, have been infected with the immediate ancestral viruses, namely chimpanzee SIVs, probably in recombinant form.

Such recombinant chimp SIVs were afforded a short-term window of opportunity for transfer to Homo sapiens by a unique event that occurred in Stanleyville between 1955 and 1960. This unique event was the human testing of live polio vaccines that had been grown in chimp tissue cultures in the Stanleyville lab.

However, thanks to doctors Plotkin, Desmyter, Wain-Hobson, Teuwen, Gevaerts and Akaibe, it now seems possible that we will now never know for sure. For it may well be that these scientists are in the process of destroying, or compromising (or have already destroyed or compromised), the only true fossil evidence available.

A lot depends on how much of the material (if any) still remains in Kisangani. If there is still some there, then I believe some independent scientists should also try to procure some of this material, so that they too can conduct tests upon it.

If any scientist out there is genuinely interested in helping to test these samples, then I would be happy to provide background information. Any offers?

Edward Hooper. November 29th, 2004


[1](a) E. Hooper, “Dephlogistication“, completed on January 1st, 2003; published by the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei and posted on Brian Martin’s site in July 2003; see page 124 of the Web version of the essay; and (b) E. Hooper, “Could an ancient sample of HIV-1 be faked?” [posted on Brian Martin’s site in February 2004.]

[2] E. Hooper, “Why the Worobey/Hahn ‘refutation’ of OPV/AIDS theory is wrong, and a warning about dishonest tactics used by opponents of the theory”, posted on on May 1st, 2004. The final section, entitled “Concern about possible faking of an ancient HIV-1 sample”, is copied below.

[3] M.H. Schierup and R. Forsberg, “Recombination and Phylogenetic Analysis of HIV-1“, Atti dei Convegni Lincei; 2003; 187; 231-245. [Also available on this site.]

[4] See, for instance, Jon Cohen, “The Hunt for the Origin of AIDS”; Atlantic Monthly; October 2000; 88-104. See page 102 for the thoughts of Donald Burke, former head of the US military’s AIDS research programme.

Extract from reference [2], above.

Concern about possible faking of an ancient HIV-1 sample

Of particular concern is the recent confirmation that ancient autopsy samples (slides and paraffin blocks from the years 1955-1958) from the basement of the old medical laboratory in Stanleyville (where the OPV experiments were based), were obtained about a year ago by a team of senior Belgian and American scientists led by Dr Stanley Plotkin.

In the late fifties, Plotkin was principal assistant to Dr Hilary Koprowski on the development and testing of CHAT vaccine, including the experimental programme in the Belgian Congo/DRC.

More recently, his support team of scientists has been active in persuading some of those witnesses who had earlier given significant testimony to me to either retract or modify their statements. In several instances, I have evidence of inappropriate pressures being placed on witnesses by members of Plotkin’s team, including attempts to badger a witness into signing a pre-typed statement that was untrue in several respects.

It is known that the Plotkin group has put considerable time, effort and money into obtaining the 1950s Stanleyville samples. Indeed, on one occasion in 2001, an unsuccessful attempt was made by a Belgian collaborator to misappropriate several hundred of the slides.

The news that they have been successful is worrying, because in no respect can the Plotkin group be considered “independent testers” of these important biomedical materials.

The Plotkins have kept their acquisition of these samples a secret. I only came to learn that they had acquired them because I recently met a Belgian professor who had played some role in helping the Plotkins in their early research. He expressed surprise and some concern that they had reported nothing of their findings.

It is believed that some of these samples (from after the start of the OPV trials) may well contain genuine evidence of early HIV-1.

The concern here is not just that an early HIV-positive sample from this era might end up unreported.

It is that an HIV-positive sample from Stanleyville in 1957 might somehow end up misfiled with another group of samples from, say, Brazzaville in 1951, ie from before the time of the OPV trials.

If such a sample were subsequently to be tested in good faith by an independent researcher, then it might subsequently be proclaimed as yet another “disproof” (indeed, as “a final and incontrovertible disproof”) of the OPV/AIDS theory.

Edward Hooper. May 1st, 2004

Extract from reference [4], above:

“Donald Burke, formerly the head of the US military’s AIDS research programme….questions the validity of every model that has estimated the epidemic’s time of origin, because none has yet allowed for a process called recombination – essentially, the splicing of genes from two sources. A person may become infected with two distinct subtypes of HIV, and they may recombine and form a new strain. Burke believes that HIV may well have relied on recombination to create a strain that could readily spread from person to person. The urbanization of Africa and the imposition by colonialists of a common language, Burke argues, brought together groups – and HIV subtypes – that had previously had little contact with one another, providing opportunities for the development of recombinants and for the spread of viable strains. It is as if someone poured all the various viral strains into one container and then shook it, Burke says.”

Plotkin’s Chums (1): Eminent Scientists Sign their Names to Falsehoods

Plotkin’s chums (1): Eminent scientists sign their names to falsehoods, in a bid to protect Stanley Plotkin and Hilary Koprowski


The secret is out. Seven eminent scientists who have long been prominently involved in the “origins of AIDS” debate, allegedly as “honest neutrals” (Robin Weiss, Simon Wain-Hobson, Beatrice Hahn, Bette Korber, Steve Wolinsky, John P. Moore, and Robert Gallo), are actually part and parcel of a cover-up.

Continue reading “Plotkin’s Chums (1): Eminent Scientists Sign their Names to Falsehoods”

Dr Hilary Koprowski – The Man of Many Ideas

When I wrote The River in 1999, I was still to some extent uncertain about Dr Koprowski and his African research. He had been loath to discuss it with me in interview – and even at one stage between our two interviews in 1993 had threatened not to discuss that particular aspect of his work with me at all. [See The River, pages 407-409.]

But at that time I was still unable to decide whether the many errors and inconsistencies in Koprowski’s account of his polio work were the result of poor memory – or poor faith. I was aware that in those two interviews I had been exposed to a combination of Koprowski’s charm and chutzpah, but in the end I decided to refrain from making any final judgement in the book itself.

This was despite the fact that roughly half of the interviewees who had expressed an opinion about Koprowski had been extremely scathing about him. He was generally acknowledged to be an excellent experimental thinker – “a man of many ideas” – even if several observers accused him of sloppy scientific work. However, the most commonly expressed reservation related to his integrity – he was said to be manipulative and unprincipled, and several of his scientific peers stated that he was not to be trusted. Some of these detrimental opinions about him featured in The River, though I also included several expressions of praise from Koprowski’s supporters, and those who feel confident about the value of his work.

In recent years, however, there has no longer been any doubt in my mind.

Almost every statement that Koprowski has made about his African polio vaccine research in recent times has been provably untrue.

Among the many fallacious claims he has made are the following:

  1. That the Ruzizi Valley trial, involving 215,000 Africans, took place in response to a polio epidemic. (It didn’t. In reality, it was the first large-scale open trial of an oral polio vaccine, OPV, anywhere in the world, and there was very little in the way of active follow-up, to see if vaccinees developed immunity to polio. The main reason for the trial was to prove, logistically, that mass-administration of an OPV could be done.)
  2. That Koprowski’s first visit to the Congo, in 1955, occurred by accident, as a result of either (a) a mechanical breakdown of his plane, or (b) a strike by Sabena staff. (It didn’t. The visit was planned, and played an important role in the setting up of the Stanleyville/Lindi operation.)
  3. That the first person to visit Stanleyville to check out the facilities at the medical laboratory was his assistant, Tom Norton, who visited on his own for about one month in 1956. [Again untrue. Tom Norton visited Stanleyville (indeed, Africa) only the once, and that was when he accompanied Koprowski there in 1957. However, Koprowski claimed in interview with me that Norton visited Stanleyville “seven or eight times”.]
  4. That there is “no possibility” that someone else could have used chimpanzee cells to regrow the polio vaccine locally in the Congo without his knowledge. [This may or may not be true. However, in interview with me in 1993, Koprowski said the precise opposite. He was at pains to emphasise that his polio vaccine was a living vaccine, and that any competent virologist could therefore have grown up a fresh batch in a primate tissue culture of his or her own choosing. He even (wrongly) accused George Dick of having regrown his [Koprowski’s] polio vaccine in Belfast in 1956, in his attempt to explain why that vaccine had performed so poorly. Koprowski went on to say that production of his vaccines had been going on in Belgium, Switzerland and South Africa, and he implied that exactly the same thing could have happened in the Belgian Congo. Koprowski told me: “The vaccines: there were different preparers. The original vaccine, I think, was prepared by the Wistar Institute…Subsequent vaccines were prepared partially by Wistar, partially by RIT, a Belgian firm, which was supplied the seed-lots and was preparing vaccines. These vaccines were put in hands, I presume, of virus medical officers of [the Congo’s] provinces…”]

There are several more examples, but these will do for now.

The very kindest interpretation that can be placed on these repeated misrepresentations and untruths is that Koprowski is nowadays emotionally unable to contemplate the possibility that trials of one his vaccines in Africa may have sparked the worst public health disaster of all time. This interpretation would assume that he is now a man in complete denial.

What must be pointed out, however, is that in every instance the misleading account which Koprowski now broadcasts is one which seeks to minimise his own involvement in the process. There is method, therefore, in his misrepresentation.

What is also interesting is the changing sub-text. In 1956, in the same year that he thrice reported in the medical literature that he was growing his polio vaccines in a final substrate of chick embryo (when he was in fact using a substrate of primate kidney), Koprowski wrote that the substrate used to grow the polio vaccine “cannot be disregarded altogether”. He ended his paper as follows: “[I]n such an age, the scientist bears an even greater responsibility than ever. It is hoped that his voice will be listened to, and that his judgement will prevail.”

The following year, speaking in Geneva just before the start of the major polio trials in the Congo, he said that: “Strains available today for large-scale clinical trials are as good as they probably ever will be…With a proper perspective one should come to the conclusion that the price one has to pay today for the comfort of future generations is indeed negligible.”

In June 1960, when delivering the opening address to the Second International Conference on Live Poliovirus Vaccines, Koprowski gave some jokey advice to those who, like Albert Sabin, had questioned the safety of his vaccines. “Clean your finger before you point at my spots”, he warned. He continued: “If, indeed, somebody were to poke his nose into the live virus vaccine, he might find a non-polio virus in all the preparations currently available; but this should hardly deter anybody from accepting the product.”

But that same afternoon, the presence of SV-40 (a potentially tumorigenic virus) was confirmed in both live and killed polio vaccines by Sweet and Hilleman. By October 1960, by which stage he had clearly lost the polio vaccine race to Sabin, Koprowski had adopted a new tack. Now he was noisily proclaiming the potential risks of contaminating monkey viruses in the polio vaccine substrate. At the same time, he started vigorously promoting a “safe substrate” (the human diploid strain, WI-38, which one of his Wistar Institute staff, Leonard Hayflick, had developed). This, indeed, is the only aspect of Koprowski’s work which is highlighted by the otherwise excellent book about SV-40 by Debbie Bookchin and Jim Schumacher, “The Virus and the Vaccine” [New York: St Martin’s Press, 2004]. It is apparent from the Acknowledgements section that the authors relied quite heavily on Stanley Plotkin and Hilary Koprowski as sources for their work.

In recent times, history seems to have repeated itself, because since the debate about the safety of Koprowski’s African vaccines has intensified once again, Koprowski has suddenly turned his attention to developing plant-based vaccines for human use.

Again, his response to potential criticism is not to admit any potential flaws or shortcomings in his previous work, but instead to develop a sudden, overriding concern for vaccine safety.

This in itself is admirable, but it is a shame (to say the least) that this same concern for human safety was not the predominant factor throughout the period of his polio research in the 1950s.

Perhaps the most offensive untruth about Africa that Hilary Koprowski has kept repeating in recent years is his insistence that my work on the OPV/AIDS theory has directly led to people in Africa refusing to take polio vaccine. Stanley Plotkin has been more than ready to echo this claim, even accusing me of direct responsibility for polio deaths in Africa.

Since this claim is so crucial to their argument (and yet so unsupported by any evidence), I have decided to deal with it in a separate essay. [See: “More fabrications by doctors Koprowski and Plotkin: the repeated allegations that The River has damaged modern attempts to eradicate polio.”]

Edward Hooper. October 14th, 2004.

Untruths, Misrepresentations and Spin

Untruths, misrepresentations and spin: the dubious methods and tactics used by Stanley Plotkin’s group in the “Origins of AIDS” debate

I think it is time for me to make a formal statement about the methods and tactics which Dr Stanley Plotkin, and various members of his support group, have been using in their attempts to counter the OPV theory, and to contest the “origins of AIDS” debate.

This support group officially includes Abel Prinzie, Jan Desmyter and Dirk Teuwen. Prinzie was working with CHAT vaccine at RIT and the Rega Institute in Belgium in the late 1950s; Desmyter was a medic working in the Belgian Congo from 1959 onwards; while Teuwen is a latter-day employee of the public affairs department of a Franco-American joint pharmaceutical venture, Aventis Pasteur-Merck, Sharpe and Dohme. Teuwen was apparently put on paid leave by Aventis Pasteur and placed at Dr Plotkin’s disposal, in order to assist his efforts in countering the arguments raised by The River.

In addition, there are several others, mainly Belgian, American and Congolese professors, who have collaborated with the Plotkin team at different times and in different ways since the publication of The River in 1999.

In recent times, Dr Plotkin, who likes to present himself as an honest broker in this debate, has leant heavily on the testimony of two scientists, Hilary Koprowski and Paul Osterrieth. For instance, an article by Dr Osterreith [Osterrieth, 2004] recently appeared in Vaccine, a journal which has Stanley Plotkin sitting on its editorial board. Accompanying Osterrieth’s article was an editorial by Plotkin [Plotkin, 2004] which was little shot of laughable as a piece of balanced analysis. For instance it claimed that the physical evidence presented at the Royal Society and Lincei meetings was “all against the OPV hypothesis” – a claim that, like many of Plotkin’s claims, contains considerably more braggadocio than truth. The Plotkin editorial was based on the unquestioning assumption that Osterrieth’s account was accurate. But Dr Osterrieth was hardly a “neutral witness” – for he was a close collaborator with both Koprowski and Plotkin on the chimpanzee research and CHAT vaccinations in Africa nearly half a century earlier – something that Plotkin’s editorial neglects to clarify. (Osterrieth was head of the virology department at the Laboratoire Medical de Stanleyville, LMS, from 1958 onwards, but he had been collaborating on the Koprowski/Courtois chimp research at Lindi from the time that he was first brought in to join the Stanleyville team, in July 1956.)

As for Dr Hilary Koprowski, these days almost every significant statement that he makes about his African research with chimps and CHAT vaccine can be proved to be untrue [see accompanying article]. The best interpretation that can be put on this is that he is now an elderly man, and that he is in profound denial about the possibility that his polio vaccine, as fed in Africa, may have sparked the AIDS pandemic. Dr Osterrieth, meanwhile, has changed his account on many occasions, as he continues to attempt to exonerate himself at all costs. On the key issues, his accounts conflict radically with those of every “neutral witness” whom I have been able to locate. The fact that Stanley Plotkin quotes so extensively from the flawed testimony of these two ex-collaborators indicates (a) an underlying disingenuousness and (b) paradoxically, a certain innate cautiousness, in that he continues to expend rather a lot of energy in trying to cover his own back.

There is now extensive evidence of a cover-up having occurred with regard to the CHAT programme in Africa, a cover-up which began in the 1950s, and which has intensified since attention has been drawn to that programme in recent years – first by Tom Curtis’s article in 1992 and more recently by my book The River (1999).

In particular, there is now evidence that Plotkin’s group has been inextricably involved in that cover-up. Members of the group have used improper methods on several occasions, including instances in which they have pressured or otherwise enjoined witnesses to modify evidence which they had previously given to me in interview. Since almost every one of these interviews was recorded on audio tape, I am in a good position to confirm the original statements that were made, and to raise significant questions about the modifications to that evidence that Plotkin and his group like to claim.

A selection of the dubious tactics which doctors Plotkin, Koprowski and their supporters have used in this debate are detailed below.

A. Pressuring institutions.

During the last five or more years, both Dr Plotkin and Dr Koprowski have repeatedly attempted to pressure both scientific institutions and publishing houses with respect to the Origins-of-AIDS debate.

According to reports from a reliable source, in late 1999, shortly after publication of The River, Dr Plotkin (then head of the Pasteur Merieux Connaught vaccine house, which was renamed Aventis Pasteur in that same year) wrote to the director of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, Dr Maxime Schwartz. Plotkin’s letter apparently proposed that the Institute could not remain silent or idle about my book. It is not clear whether Plotkin was proposing that an official statement be released, or that legal action be initiated, but the Pasteur Institute apparently declined to accede to Plotkin’s proposal.

[An aside. The Pasteur Institute has generally played an even-handed role in this controversy over the years, even if it seems to have leant towards the Plotkin/Koprowski position in recent times. For instance, in 1994 one of its journals, Research in Virology, published an early article by Elswood and Stricker which laid out the basic principles of the OPV/AIDS theory. Similarly in 1994, and again in 1997, its director of viral research, Luc Montagnier, told me in interview that he remained open-minded about the OPV theory and the origins of AIDS. By contrast, Aventis Pasteur and two of the other largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, Merck, Sharpe and Dohme and GlaxoSmithKline (which has absorbed RIT within its corporate embrace) have each publicly associated their corporate names with the Plotkin group, for instance by allowing those names to appear on the title page of that group’s “Postscript” in the Royal Society proceedings, published in 2001. This is perhaps not entirely surprising, for both RIT and the Pasteur Institute vaccine house (the forerunner of Aventis Pasteur) participated in polio vaccination programmes in Africa in the 1950s. It seems that these large drug companies take the position that the OPV/AIDS theory inherently threatens public confidence in vaccinations in general. Whatever, the fact that Aventis Pasteur has apparently helped support the Plotkin group financially (at least by funding Teuwen’s involvement) would seem to be significant.]

More recently, in late 2003, Dr Koprowski wrote to the president of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei in Rome, and complained about the publication of my article “Dephlogistication” [Hooper, 2003(A)] in the Accademia‘s journal, the Atti dei Convegni Lincei. This letter apparently made references to possible legal action, and demanded the right to reply to my paper in the Atti. The Accademia has since agreed to publish a reply by doctors Koprowski and Plotkin, and that reply will apparently appear in the October 2004 issue of another Lincei journal, the Rendiconti Lincei. I have already enquired of the Accademia whether I have the right to reply in turn to Koprowski’s response – and have been told that in principle I do. Because the Accademia has to date always acted with commendable fairness and even-handedness in this debate, I hope that it will agree to publish whatever reply I might find it necessary to submit.

Dr Koprowski has a reputation for being litigious, and on several occasions in the past has used legal action and the threat of legal action in order to gain advantage, for instance by frightening possible opponents into silence. One well-known example of this approach came with his legal action against Tom Curtis and Rolling Stone magazine in late 1992, in response to Curtis’s article entitled “The origin of AIDS: was it an act of God or an act of Man?” Eventually, after nearly a year of legal preliminaries and (allegedly) the expenditure by Rolling Stone of some $500,000 in legal fees, the magazine folded under the pressure and published a “Clarification” (which was not far from being an apology). It also paid Koprowski the symbolic fee of one dollar, and abandoned plans to run a follow-up article on the subject.

In similar vein, when the journal Nature Medicine was contemplating running an article about The River in 1999, and was polling views among scientists, one of its reporters received a phone call from someone who claimed to be a lawyer representing Dr Koprowski, who asked if she was aware that this topic had been the subject of litigation in the past. Whether or not for this reason, Nature Medicine did not proceed with the mooted article.

There are several other similar instances for which I have either hard or anecdotal evidence.

However, such pressure does not always succeed. For instance early in 1999, lawyers representing Dr Koprowski approached the CEO of Time Warner Inc., in an apparent attempt to delay, or stop, publication of The River. My US publishing house (Little, Brown & Co., which is owned by Time Warner), had already had very careful readings done on the book by both legal and scientific experts, and was satisfied that I could fully support the claims made in it. Little, Brown therefore declined the demands of Koprowski’s lawyers that he be given the opportunity to vet the passages relating to him prior to publication.

Similarly, my British publishers, Allen Lane/Penguin, withstood legal pressure from Koprowski’s lawyers in 2000 and 2001 [see below].

B. Pressuring individuals.

On two occasions in the year 2000, a member of Plotkin’s group, Professor Abel Prinzie, attempted to persuade a former Belgian sanitary agent, Hubert Caubergh, to repudiate what I had written in The River, and to deny that a version of CHAT vaccine prepared by RIT had been administered in Burundi in 1959-60. (RIT is a Belgian vaccine house that was founded in the 1950s and which has close links with the University of Leuven.) On February 9th, 2000 and May 3rd, 2000, Prinzie sent Caubergh typed letters along these lines, with his name pencilled in at the bottom, indicating where he was being invited to sign. Effectively, Caubergh was being invited to perjure himself. When I next saw him, Caubergh told me that what I had written about him and about this episode in The River was accurate. He described Prinzie’s approaches as “dishonourable”, and said that he had refused to cooperate with him. When Caubergh proved to be immovable, the Plotkin team presumably had to change its strategy, and at the Royal Society meeting in September 2000, Plotkin made no bones about the fact that RIT had produced one of the last versions of CHAT vaccine (lot DS101) to be fed in Africa (between December 1959 and March 1960); [Plotkin, 2001B. See also: Plotkin et al., 2001]. Dr Plotkin should not have worried, for in marked contrast to the CHAT vaccination trials in the Ruzizi Valley in western Burundi in early 1958, using OPV prepared in Stanleyville, there are no significant epidemiological correlations between the use of the Belgian-prepared vaccine in the rest of Burundi in 1959-60, and the earliest appearances of HIV.

Interestingly, since the Royal Society meeting (where I was asked questions about the improper approaches made to Hubert Caubergh at the press conference), Mr Caubergh has received a series of phone calls, letters and Christmas cards from Dirk Teuwen, who appears to be trying to limit the damage caused by Prinzie’s approach. Teuwen has also met with Mr Caubergh twice. Fortunately, Mr Caubergh has spoken about this episode several times on tape, and has promised that if Plotkin or Koprowski should ever carry through their threats to take legal action against me, he will not stand idle.

Sadly, there were few other protagonists from the 1950s who proved to be as principled as Hubert Caubergh, and who felt able to withstand such pressures. Many of the others who were approached found it easier to “adapt” their stories on key points, so that they conformed to the Plotkin group’s version of events. This of course still leaves Plotkin and his colleagues needing to explain why so many of these witnesses apparently modified their accounts on key issues such as what happened to the Lindi chimps, and whether chimpanzee tissue culture was ever prepared at Stanleyville. They like to insinuate that I fabricated, misreported, or misinterpreted the original evidence. The audio recordings of the interviews (and my notebooks) prove otherwise.

I now have evidence of several instances in which improper approaches have been made by members of the Plotkin group to witnesses, in a bid to persuade or pressure them to modify their stories. The continuing emergence of further examples suggests that there are probably yet other instances in which the full story is yet to come to light.

In addition, since 1995, I myself have been threatened with legal action three times by lawyers representing Dr Koprowski and once by a lawyer (also acting for Koprowski) who was representing Dr Plotkin. I have always replied robustly, and they have never made good on any of their threats. This is hardly surprising, in that the OPV theory is backed by hard evidence, whereas their own versions of events are not – something that would readily be revealed in a court of law.

Dr Koprowski’s most recent approach is worth mentioning here, not least because it was presented in an unusual manner. In December 2000, a lawyer acting on his behalf wrote both to me and to my British publishers, Allen Lane/Penguin, asserting that overwhelming evidence against the OPV/AIDS theory had been presented at the Royal Society conference. He then stated that Dr Koprowski could sue, but instead proposed an alternative: the setting up of a medico-legal panel to which both sides could present their evidence, and which could then “adjudicate on the OPV theory”. The end of the letter stated that if no response was received, then Dr Koprowski would have no alternative but to sue. A lawyer representing Penguin UK replied, robustly contesting each of the claims made in the letter. She expressed some surprise at the idea that a quasi-legal panel could resolve a scientific debate, but nevertheless requested further details, such as who was being proposed to fund the panel, and to sit on it. No reply was ever received from the Koprowski camp.

In yet other instances which are not so crucial to the story, a rather different process may have come into play, one which involves solidarity between professional colleagues, a tendency for which the medical community, in particular, is well-known. I believe that some of those who initially gave testimony to me may, after being approached by the Plotkin team, have experienced some unease about having said things which (they now felt) might have placed their colleagues in a difficult position. Some of them, while not prepared to retract their original statements, may have been prepared to adapt their statements in such a way that they did less “damage”. There are several instances in Plotkin’s Royal Society papers in which, I suspect, this professional solidarity factor may have played a role.

C. Malpractice and dubious practice.

Let me now return to the instances of malpractice (and questionable practice) by members of Plotkin’s group. {Certain of the other examples have already been described in previous papers: the approaches made to doctors Ninane and Bugyaki are described in Dephlogistication [Hooper 2003(A), pages 203-206], while the treatment of some of the Congolese witnesses is described in the postscript to my February 2004 paper entitled “Robin Weiss, professor of virology, doctor of spin”.}

Many witnesses have been sent pretyped statements with their names pencilled in at the bottom, where they are meant to sign. Plotkin has defended this as an appropriate technique for gathering testimonial evidence, but he has completely failed to address the fact that in cases such as Caubergh’s, the technique has clearly been abused, in that the witness has been invited (indeed, badgered) to put a signature to a false statement.

In similar fashion, at the Royal Society conference, in the material which was circulated to the press, Stanley Plotkin included a map which he sourced to my book The River, and which featured the OPV vaccination sites and early cases of AIDS in central Africa. The only problem was that Plotkin had decided to add to the map two extra AIDS cases from Kikwit which, he claimed in his speech, were the very ones that were most crucial to my argument. These cases do not feature in the maps in my book (which cover early AIDS cases up to 1980) because they occurred in 1986 and 1987. In this instance Plotkin first misrepresented my evidence, and then criticised me on the basis of his flawed version of that evidence: a classic case of setting up straw men to shoot at.

Another example of dubious practice is revealed in the TV documentary, “The Origins of AIDS”. A typed statement which had apparently been signed by Paul Osterrieth on February 28th, 2000 and forwarded to Plotkin, ends with the following hand-written words: “I also want to state very clearly that I never sent chimpanzee kidneys to the WISTAR Institute, Philadelphia”. [A copy of this witness statement was faxed from Plotkin’s office, in response to an enquiry made in October 2000.] Plotkin’s “Postscript” article cites Osterrieth as making a very similar written statement on October 15th, 2000: “Chimpanzee kidneys were never sent to the Wistar Institute, only to Dr Deinhardt at his demand” [Plotkin et al., 2001]. Yet in the speech which he gave at the conference in September 2000, and which he later submitted (slightly adapted, but not with respect to this sentence) for publication in the conference proceedings [Osterrieth, 2001], Dr Osterreith states the following: “It is true that six minced chimpanzee kidneys were sent to the Wistar Institute at the request of Fritz Deinhardt…” The latter sentence, written in the passive tense, carefully avoids providing an identity for the sender. However, Osterrieth has previously acknowledged that it was he personally who dispatched chimpanzee kidneys to Philadelphia.

This means that two directly conflicting accounts, both sourced to Osterrieth, appear side by side in the Royal Society proceedings, on pages 825 and 839. Where in Philadelphia did Dr Osterrieth send these chimp kidneys? Was it via the Wistar Institute or not? When writing signed statements for Plotkin, he insists that he didn’t send chimp kidneys to the Wistar; when delivering his own speech (and, some months later, submitting his own paper), he states that he did. At the very least, this is evidence of real sloppiness by both Osterrieth and Plotkin. But it may well be more. It may be that Osterrieth is revealing that he actually did send chimp kidneys direct to the Wistar Institute, and that those intended for Deinhardt (at the nearby Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) were forwarded to him out of the Wistar’s supply. This is doubly significant, because, from the description in the original documents, it is apparent that the “minced chimpanzee kidneys” alluded to by Osterrieth in 2000 actually constituted primitive, untrypsinised chimp kidney tissue cultures.

Apart from this, the words added at the end of Osterrieth’s typed statement of February 28th, 2000, are clearly not in Osterrieth’s own hand. We do not know who wrote them, or, indeed, when they wrote them. They could have been added before Osterrieth signed, or afterwards. This further example of sloppiness raises additional doubts about the reliability of Plotkin’s witness statements. This is especially significant in the light of the fact that Dr Plotkin has failed to honour his repeated promises to release those statements for public inspection [see below].

These are merely examples of the approaches and techniques routinely used by the Plotkin team in their attempts to disprove the evidence that I have carefully assembled and reported over the last twelve years. Many of these are careless and unprofessional, but in several instances they are much worse than that. In particular, the attempts to persuade witnesses to perjure themselves are not only dishonourable, but also dishonest.

The result is that much of the testimonial evidence that Plotkin puts forward in a bid to disprove the OPV theory is false, while much of the rest is unreliable.

D. The campaign of misinformation.

Plotkin has failed to address the vast majority of the evidential points presented in The River, such as (to quote but one) the fact that in three published papers in 1956 and 1957, Hilary Koprowski wilfully misrepresented in the medical literature which tissue culture he was using as final substrate for his OPVs. (He wrote that he was using a tissue culture of chick embryo when he was actually using some variety of primate kidney.) Instead of making a sincere attempt to respond to my claims, he has instead focused on trying to score points (or to engender confusion) on specific issues, in many instances basing his ripostes on questionable witness statements.

This is a classic misinformation technique: firstly to present “evidence” that raises doubts about the legitimacy of the opposition’s case, and when that is not possible, to try to obscure events behind a smokescreen of confusion and uncertainty.

I have to admit that the approach used by the Plotkin group, tacitly or openly supported by several of their colleagues, has enjoyed considerable success, at least on the level of the public relations battle. The fact that they have managed to construct a defence is crucial, even if it is a defence based on misrepresentations and falsehoods. For they can now point to the articles they have had published in the scientific literature, and claim to their peers that they have answered the claims made in The River, or in Dephlogistication. Only those who take the trouble to check more carefully (and not even all of them) come to realise that Plotkin’s defence is extremely flimsy.

Some of the major scientific journals (Nature in particular, over which Robin Weiss exerts undue influence on the subject of AIDS) have acquiesced in this process, and continue to publish commentaries that focus on the denials, while failing to report the original arguments. In comparison to the numbers who read Nature and Science, it is clear that relatively few scientists have read either The River or the papers I have published since 1999, and so it is that many “neutral scientists” meekly accept the perceived wisdom that the OPV/AIDS theory has been disproved. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

So it is that a cover-up has been effected about the origins of the major medical tragedy of our times. When the full story is told (as, indeed, it will be told), the ignominious roles played by several scientists and scientific journals will become embarrassingly apparent. One is left to wonder whether the primary motive in the minds of some of those involved is not a shamelessly egotistical one: “Let it not be in my lifetime”.

E. Accusations and threats.

The responses of the Plotkin group to my recent findings are also rather interesting. The early published responses to my book by Plotkin, Desmyter and Teuwen contained sections which were both untrue and abusive. An example was Plotkin’s parting shot in an article in Clinical Infectious Diseases, a journal for which he once again sits on the editorial board. “The River“, he wrote, “is a house of cards built on a swamp of conspiracy theory, unsubstantiated insinuations and character assassination. It is fundamentally meretricious, and does not withstand critical analysis.” [Plotkin, 2001(A)] Plotkin submitted virtually the same article to the Royal Society volume on “Origins of HIV and the AIDS Epidemic” [Plotkin, 2001(B)], but the Society’s lawyers apparently insisted that this section be omitted on legal grounds.

Since then, Plotkin appears to have received some training in both public relations and legal matters. But now and again, the old unvarnished Stanley Plotkin still emerges. Three months after the appearance of my “Aids and the Polio Vaccine” article in The London Review of Books [Hooper, 2003B], Plotkin apparently came to England, and visited Wells cathedral, just a few miles from my house. He did not contact me for a face-to-face chat, however. Instead, he sent me a post-card. The front of the card showed one medieval figure beating another over the head with a stick, and the caption read “Punishment of the apple-stealers”. The message read: “Dear Ed, Thinking of you. Stanley Plotkin”.

One could view this card either as a black joke, or as a threat. Personally, I view it as a bit of both. However, it does need to be seen in context. Stanley Plotkin’s last communication with me, prior to the post-card, was the threatening letter sent through his lawyer. It will be interesting to see what he does next.

F. More missing documents.

At the end of his “Postscript” paper, published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London in July 2001 [Plotkin et al., 2001], Plotkin writes the following: “Letters cited in this paper will be deposited in the library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia or the University of Leuven.” This was a strangely vague promise, but by May 2003, Plotkin had still not honoured it. At that time, in response to an enquiry by Professor Brian Martin, he indicated that he was currently too busy to do the sorting and copying, but would hopefully be able to do it during July or August 2003. He finished by promising: “I will make it a priority to deposit the documents this year”.

In February 2004, Brian Martin again e-mailed Stanley Plotkin to enquire whether the documents had been deposited, and Plotkin replied that they had not been. He wrote that his secretary had “been devoting her spare time to annotating the documents”, but added that “to be frank” there was now an additional problem, which was the “renewed activity of Ed Hooper”, which “requires that I have access to the documents, further slowing the process”.

This is a surprising and revealing statement, for it fails to address the simple fact that Dr Plotkin must surely already have copies of these letters, which would allow him to continue working with them. It is hard to think of any conceivable reason why he would need to continue working with the original letters – unless, of course, he has something to hide.

It is now more than three years since Plotkin made his written promise to deposit the “letters cited in this paper” (ie the originals, not the copies) in one of the two stated libraries for public viewing. Claiming pressure of work, or the continued need to have access to the documents, is a totally inadequate excuse for failing to honour his word. This means that although my source materials are available for viewing upon request (and indeed have been viewed by several interested persons), Dr Plotkin appears to be keeping his source materials hidden from public view.

The flaws and dichotomies which have been noted in some of the few documents which Dr Plotkin has released publicly (eg the map of CHAT versus AIDS in Africa that was supposedly sourced to my book, and Osterrieth’s February 2000 statement, both mentioned above) raise questions about his reliability and integrity, as does his continued failure to honour his promise on this issue.

I believe that Plotkin is stonewalling. Whatever, I am hereby calling on him to honour his promise, and deposit the letters for public viewing. But I am doing more than that. I hereby call on him to deposit all the letters cited in both of his Royal Society articles – not just those relating to his “Postscript”, but also those relating to his first article [Plotkin, 2001(B)] – in one of the two libraries he mentions, and to do this by the end of the year 2004. I believe that at this stage, doing this will be the only way in which he can allay concerns about the reliability and authenticity of these documents.

Until he does this, then it will be clear to many observers that Dr Stanley Plotkin is unable (or unwilling) to produce the “evidence” which he claims supports his position.

G. My response to Plotkin’s Royal Society papers.

Shortly after the Royal Society meeting, I posted my preliminary response to the two speeches that were delivered by Plotkin and Koprowski at the Royal Society meeting on Brian Martin’s web-page on “Polio vaccines and the origins of AIDS” [Hooper, 2000]. Even at that stage, it was apparent that their two speeches featured a surprisingly large numbers of inaccuracies and misrepresentations.

During the all but four years that have passed since that meeting, many more flaws and untruths have come to light – both in the aforementioned papers, and in the Postscript that Plotkin’s group was allowed to include in the published proceedings of the Royal Society meeting. I have been waiting to inspect the source materials for Plotkin’s papers, but as it becomes increasingly apparent that Plotkin is doing all he can to avoid or delay making these available, I must now consider whether to release my more formal response to the Plotkin/Koprowski papers without seeing Plotkin’s source materials.

For now, it suffices that I should reinforce what I have stated previously. The papers by doctors Plotkin and Koprowski that were published in the Philosophical Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B, 2001, Volume 356, are full of inaccuracies, errors and untruths. They represent an attempt to construct a defence that is based on false claims and fabricated evidence.

Hopefully the revelations in the MFP/Galafilm television documentary, “The Origins of AIDS”, will raise questions in the minds of at least some of those who have previously been happy to accept the statement with which Robin Weiss ended his commentary on this debate in the pages of Nature: “Some beautiful facts have destroyed an ugly theory” [Weiss, 2001].

In September 2001, at the Lincei meeting, I challenged Dr Weiss to produce just one such “beautiful fact”. He was unable to do so then, and he is still unable to do so today – as are those he chooses to defend, such as doctors Koprowski, Plotkin and Osterrieth.

[EH Main article completed February 22nd, 2004. Adapted with new information on August 31st and September 23rd, 2004. Posted October 14th 2004.]


Hooper E, “Opposition to the OPV theory (3): The papers by Stanley Plotkin and Hilary Koprowski presented at the Royal Society meeting on ‘Origins of HIV and the AIDS Epidemic’ in September 2000”; ; 2000. [This paper features a brief introduction, followed by the papers of response that were originally posted on Brian Martin’s “Polio vaccine and the origins of AIDS” web-page on October 15th, 2000.]

Hooper E, “Dephlogistication. New developments in the origins of AIDS controversy, including some observations about the ways in which the scientific establishment may seek to limit open debate and flow of information on ‘difficult’ issues”; Atti dei Convegni Lincei; 2003(A); 187; 27-230.

Hooper E, “Aids and the polio vaccine: Edward Hooper finds new evidence”; London Review of Books; 2003(B) [April 3, 2003]; 25(7); 22-23.

Osterrieth P, “Vaccine could not have been prepared in Stanleyville”; Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. (London) B; 2001; 356; 839.

Osterrieth P, “Oral polio vaccine: fact versus fiction”; Vaccine; 2004; 22; 1831-1835.

Plotkin SA, “CHAT oral polio vaccine was not the source of human immunodeficiency virus Type 1 for humans”; Clin. Inf. Dis.; 2001(A); 32; 1068-1084; see page 1082.

Plotkin SA, “Untruths and consequences: the false hypothesis linking CHAT type 1 polio vaccination to the origin of human immunodeficiency virus”; Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. (London) B; 2001(B); 356; 815-824.

Plotkin SA, Teuwen DE, Prinzie A and Desmyter J, “Postscript relating to new allegations made by Edward Hooper at the Royal Society Discussion Meeting on 11 September 2000”; Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. (London) B; 2001; 356; 825-830.

Plotkin SA, “Chimpanzees and journalists” [editorial]; Vaccine; 2004; 22; 1829-1830.

Weiss RA, “Polio vaccines exonerated”; Nature; 2001; 410; 1035-1036.

The New Round of Legal Threats by Doctors Koprowski and Plotkin

Officially, their stance is that they care little about the OPV/AIDS theory. They claim that it is but a minor annoyance that sometimes distracts them from their work for a few hours.

Sadly for them, the reality is rather different. Over the past four years, Hilary Koprowski and Stanley Plotkin have devoted a large portion of their time, and quite a bit of their incomes, to fighting the OPV/AIDS theory, and trying to ensure that it is suppressed in as many different fora (the halls of science, the media) as possible.

They are currently engaged in a new – and rather desperate – attempt to bury the OPV/AIDS theory once and for all. The major plank of this initiative involves making legal threats against broadcasters. This is supported by the sending of multiple letters to film festival directors and journal editors, enjoining them not to show, or publish, materials about the OPV theory. All these initiatives are based around false claims and misrepresentations.

Like its predecessors, this latest attempt will fail, because in all its essential elements it appears to be little more or less than an attempt to suppress the truth.

When it comes to defending their position, what doctors Koprowski and Plotkin especially like is the work of tame scientists like Beatrice Hahn, Bette Korber, Robin Weiss, Simon Wain-Hobson and Michael Worobey who, under the guise of making balanced scientific observations about the origins of AIDS, have falsely declared that the OPV/AIDS theory has been “destroyed” or “refuted”.

What Koprowski and Plotkin dislike are articles in the medical literature that either promote the OPV/AIDS theory, or which reveal that the theory has not, after all, been disproven. [For a recent example of the latter, see: Jim Moore, “The Puzzling Origins of AIDS”; American Scientist; November-December 2004; 92 (6); 540-547. Even though this article is actually quite strongly wedded to the “bushmeat plus contaminated needles” theory of HIV origin, Koprowski and Plotkin will still not like it, for it describes the OPV/AIDS hypothesis as one of four competing and viable theories of origin, and concludes: “headlines reporting the death of this theory remain premature”.]

However, what these two scientists really hate are films or television broadcasts about the OPV/AIDS theory. This is probably because they recognise the truism that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Presumably this is the reason for the latest legal onslaught by the two doctors (and by lawyers representing the two men) against television companies and film festivals which have shown (or are about to show) “The Origin of AIDS”, the 91-minute documentary that focuses on The River, and on my investigations since The River was published in 1999.

In recent months, I have been informed of several instances in which TV companies or film festivals have received legal threats from Koprowski, Plotkin, or their lawyers.

In one instance, a 67-page legal submission (a 15 page letter, and 52 pages of annexes) was apparently sent to a TV station.

Another television broadcaster was apparently given a finite number of days in which to broadcast what was effectively an on-air retraction – an opportunity which, it seems, it declined to take up. Some months later the company was informed by Koprowski’s lawyers that their client would not be proceeding further. Apparently no further explanation was given.

Since I only know of these legal initiatives at second-hand or third-hand, I shall not comment further about them, except to say that most of the so-called supporting evidence seems to be based around the tame articles written by scientists like Robin Weiss (“Polio Vaccines Exonerated”) and Michael Worobey (“Controversial Polio Vaccine Theory Refuted”), which are characterised by deliberate misrepresentation of the issues in the OPV/AIDS debate.

What this reveals is that as the vaccine-makers grow more and more desperate, their tactics get dirtier and dirtier.

It is all part of an ugly continuum, which reveals an uncomfortable link between scientific misrepresentation and full-scale legal bullying. Scientists like those mentioned above claim that they have refuted the OPV theory when they have not. [See accompanying article: Plotkin’s Chums (1).] They make over-grandiose claims, or misrepresent the significance of their data. Then attempts are made by doctors Plotkin and Koprowski to use these economies with the truth as a basis for legal action, and for intimidating broadcasters and festival directors so that (hopefully) they decline to show the film.

[Another analagous process has been occurring recently. This involves so-called “neutral scientists” who have, for whatever reason, decided to back Plotkin’s and Koprowski’s versions of events, and who then write identical letters to the directors of film festivals, claiming that the OPV theory has been disproved, and urging the festival directors to drop “The Origins of AIDS” from their schedules. The revelation of these letters shows that several of the leading scientists in this debate are acting dishonestly, and knowingly participating in an attempted cover-up. [Again, see “Plotkin’s chums (1)“.]

Hilary Koprowski has a long and ignoble history of trying to enforce his will on others through legal action, or the threat of legal action. In the United States, a land where the lawyer is king, he has enjoyed some successes in the past. How galling it must be to him that in the present circumstance, his normal method of shutting up opposition is not working!

I believe that, with respect to the “Origins of AIDS” debate, the legal threats made by (or on behalf of) doctors Koprowski and Plotkin are mischievous. I believe that their main intent is to intimidate and bully those with whom they do not agree into silence.

At present, the main thrust of their legal effort seems to be focussed on attempts to stop “The Origins of AIDS” documentary from being broadcast in the United Kingdom and the United States. I believe that they will not succeed.

Legal threats to the author of this piece

In the past, doctors Koprowski and/or Plotkin (or their lawyers) have twice threatened me personally, and Koprowski’s lawyers have once threatened each of my American and British publishers. Each of these legal threats has been seen off without too many problems: robust answers which contest the claims have been sent, and then nothing more has been heard from the good doctors.

However, last year Stanley Plotkin, who seems to be increasingly erratic, changed his tactics, and resorted to sending me a personal hand-written threat by post-card!

What deters doctors K & P from making further legal threats to myself is presumably the realisation that if they sue, I will certainly fight them – and that, unlike their good selves, I have rather copious evidence to support my case.

To begin with, I used to find their legal threats upsetting – and later on, they made me angry. These days, I just find them rather sad.

Just what do these two men think they are doing? Their scientific arguments are full of holes. They have repeatedly contradicted themselves in their own written statements. Their practice of leaning on European witnesses to persuade them to change key aspects of their testimony is now well documented. In Africa, their use of a proxy (Professor Dudu Akaibe) to do their bidding is again well-documented: he has used both his position (as Vice-Dean of Science at the University of Kisangani), and money (provided by Plotkin’s former employers, Pasteur Merieux) in an attempt to persuade some of our African witnesses to change their testimony, and he has kicked our African translator off his university course, without explanation.

Sadly, the more frightened these men get, the more lamentable their behaviour becomes. This same group of Plotkin’s helpers in Kisangani recently managed to obtain mid-1950s pathology samples from the old Stanleyville laboratory basement. Nothing publicly was announced about this, and all that one can say is that the intention in Plotkin’s mind was presumably not to discover a post-vaccination sample of HIV-1 and to announce it to the world. (The main fear, of course, is that if such an ancient sample of HIV-1 is discovered, it will instead be presented in another series, dating from before the days before the OPV trials.)

Stanley Plotkin promised more than three years ago to release into the public domain the letters and documents supporting his Royal Society articles. He has been reminded about this twice by Brian Martin. His excuses keep changing, but the promise has never been kept.

Once again, I call on Stanley Plotkin publicly to release these documents. Already, some of his source materials have been shown not to contain the evidence that he has claimed for them. One can only imagine the flaws and errors that must exist in those documents for Plotkin to continue to need to suppress them.

A Challenge to Dr Hilary Koprowski and Dr Stanley Plotkin

Here’s a challenge to the two of you good doctors. If you really are determined to disprove the OPV/AIDS theory, then for goodness’ sake go ahead and do so. Set aside the distorting and spinning, and the playground tactics that do you no credit at all.

Instead, just produce some real, substantive evidence to disprove the theory.

You see, gentlemen, I don’t think you have any such evidence. If you did have, you would have produced it long ago. The fact that you haven’t done so is not because the evidence has been mislaid (as Dr Koprowski claimed to me in 1993, when, extraordinarily, he said that papers pertaining to 1957-1968 got “lost in a move” to the Wistar Insttiute, a move which actually took place in 1957). It is because such evidence doesn’t exist.

Similarly, Dr Plotkin, I don’t think you will ever keep your oft-repeated promise to release the papers you cited at the Royal Society meeting. Why? Because they will reveal things that you would prefer not to be revealed.

Anyway, there it is, Dr Koprowski, Dr Plotkin. What are you going to do? Take up the challenge? Prove me wrong? Issue some more threats? Whatever you decide, I look forward to your response.

Edward Hooper. October 14th, 2004, updated November 21st, 2004.

The Allegation that The River has Damaged Modern Attempts to Eradicate Polio

The allegation that The River has damaged modern attempts to eradicate polio: more fabrications by doctors Koprowski and Plotkin.

I think it is time to put something important on the record in the public domain, and to do so in forthright fashion.

I have spent some time investigating the claims by doctors Koprowski and Plotkin that The River had damaged modern polio vaccination campaigns – which claims, when I first heard them, caused me some real concern.

I have not found one shred of evidence to support these claims. Furthermore, the supporting references are fabricated. Not one of these references actually does what Koprowski and Plotkin claim – and links The River to people refusing to take polio vaccine in modern times.

This is crucially important, because this aspect of Koprowski and Plotkin’s attack on The River and the OPV/AIDS theory is the only one where their attacks focus on alleged damage done to the general population, rather than alleged damage done to them personally. This, then, represents their attempt to take the higher moral ground. And yet (as I demonstrate below) it is based on falsehoods.

– 0 –

The story begins at the Royal Society conference on “Origins of HIV and the AIDS Epidemic”, in September 2000. At this conference, Hilary Koprowski gave a speech that directly linked “The River” to claims allegedly made by “the Catholic church in Kenya” that modern polio vaccine is contaminated with HIV.

This is what he said: “According to the World Health Organization, it is in India and Africa where vaccination with oral polio vaccine must be completed in order to declare the world polio-free. But then enter THE RIVER with its tale that vaccination against polio may bring the deadly gift of another disease such as AIDS. And what is the response in Africa? The news has spread in Africa, and the Catholic church in Kenya, over the objection of medical authorities, advised mothers not to take their children for polio vaccination as it was contaminated with HIV.” He referenced this allegation to an untitled article in The Nation (a Kenyan daily newspaper) of November 26th, 1999.

Copies of this speech were released to the Royal Society audience, together with a Koprowski press release which emphasised the same point. In its second paragraph, it read: “[T]oday, instead of celebrating scientific and medical milestone [sic], we have been left with the task of controlling damage done by The River, as a result of which people are questioning the vaccination of children.”

I phoned a Kenyan journalist, who was kind enough to check The Nation of November 26th, 1999, together with the “Polio” clippings file. She informed me that no such article had been published in The Nation on that day.

This helpful journalist also searched through the “polio” clippings file, and then faxed me copies of articles which reported rumours about the safety of polio vaccines. It became apparent that such rumours had been rife in Kenya for several years. Although some of the rumours revolved around claims of contamination with “AIDS” or “HIV”, most of them related to alleged contamination with “family planning drugs”, presumably intended (in the minds of the rumour-mongers) to render Kenyan males sterile.

She sent me eight reports about alleged polio vaccine contamination, dating from 1996 to 1999. Three of these reports had identified “family planning drugs” and two reports “HIV” as the alleged contaminant, but all of these latter reports had appeared in 1996 and 1997, long before the publication of The River in August, 1999. Since I had never submitted any article about OPV/AIDS theory for publication before August 1999, it was hard to see how my work could be linked to concerns about the safety of modern polio vaccines, as expressed by sections of the Kenyan Catholic church.

I explained these inconsistencies in a response to Koprowski’s articles which was posted on Brian Martin’s web-page on “Polio Vaccines and the Origins of AIDS” a month after the Royal Society meeting, on October 15th, 2000. I also made sure that whenever I did radio interviews for stations which might broadcast to Africa or elsewhere in the developing world, I assured listeners that “as far as is known, modern polio vaccines are safe”, and emphasised that anyone who was advised that they or their children needed polio vaccination should go ahead and get vaccinated.

Later, I wrote letters with the same message to The Nation, and to the South African magazine, You (which was then serialising The River). In all these interventions, I stressed that I was not questioning the safety of modern polio vaccines, but rather the safety of one particular experimental polio vaccine prepared back in the 1950s.

Koprowski, however, continued to broadcast (both in interviews and in articles) his false allegations that The River was spoiling the campaign to eradicate polio. For instance, in the published version of the Royal Society paper which appeared in July 2001 [H. Koprowski, “Hypotheses and facts”; Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. (London) B; 2001; 356; 831-833], he again linked The River to the rumours in Kenya, and this time sourced his claim to a specific article in The Nation of November 26th, 1999, entitled: “Catholic stand on disease criticised”.

In July 2004 I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days in Kenya, and so, with the help of two Kenyan journalists, I checked the back issues of all the Kenyan newspapers for November 26th, 1999. We confirmed that the article as referenced by Koprowski does not exist – either in The Nation, in the two other newspapers published by National Newspapers: The East African and Taifa Leo, or in Kenya’s other newspaper, The Standard.

Later, at my request, senior reporter Dennis Onyango spent several hours checking through every issue of the Nation from August 23rd, 1999 (publication date of The River) to December 31st, 1999. He eventually found an article in The Nation with the title: “Catholic stand on disease criticised”, which was dated November 27th, 1999. However, this article did not match Koprowski’s description of it in certain crucial respects – which may explain why Koprowski had consistently failed to provide an accurate and complete reference for the article.

This article, published on the day after AIDS had been declared a national disaster by President Moi, focused on criticisms of Catholic clergy by Kenyan members of parliament, who said that they were hindering the fight against HIV and AIDS by preaching against the use of condoms.

The end of the article dealt with a secondary issue: the reports “that some Catholic clergy in Central and some parts of Eastern Province had advised worshippers not [to] take their children for polio vaccination as it was contaminated by HIV.” The article went on: “The allegations were termed as baseless and nonsensical by the Minister of Medical Services, Dr Amukoa Anangwe, who asked why there should be a conspiracy to provide polio kits containing HIV to people of Central and some parts of Eastern provinces.”

At no point in the article was any linkage made between the rumours of vaccine contamination on the one side, and either The River or OPV/AIDS theory on the other.

Indeed, Dennis Onyango, who has been a leading journalist for both The Nation and The Standard since the start of the nineties, assures me that such rumours have nothing to do with my work. He says that he wrote the first Kenyan article about the OPV/AIDS theory in 2000, and assures me that before then, people in Kenya had not even heard of The River.

During my visit to Kenya, I also checked through the “Polio” clippings file at The Nation, which goes back to the 1970s, and reveals that there has been discontent and apathy about polio vaccination since that decade.

A broader survey of the history of vaccination campaigns in Africa reveals that African populations have been sporadically rejecting vaccinations given by Europeans since they were first introduced – in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Indeed, in several parts of the Belgian Congo (notably parts of Bas-Congo), local people refused to accept the Koprowski vaccines in 1959 and 1960, or else refused to have blood drawn at the time of these vaccinations. The most common rumour then was that such procedures resulted in the “unsexing” of children.

Since Independence in or around 1960, there have been many further instances in different African countries of vaccines being rejected. Newspaper reports reveal that the main causes of popular concern related to fears of contamination with “cancer” and family planning drugs. By the mid-1980s “AIDS” or “HIV” begin to appear as additional alleged vaccine contaminants.

Given this background, it is clear that the rumours that affected some Kenyan communities in the late nineties were part of a continuum of concern about vaccine safety, and were not related either to the OPV/AIDS theory, or to The River.

However, doctors Koprowski and Plotkin have continued to make their sweeping and unsupported accusations in the years since 2000. In 2003, when polio vaccines were rejected in Nigeria, they again claimed that these events were related to my book – and once again, the allegations were unfounded. As has been pointed out in various articles, polio vaccines have only been rejected in the northern, largely Islamic, part of Nigeria, and the rejection relates to ancient religio-political conflicts, exacerbated by the aftermath of 9/11.

This, however, matters little to Stanley Plotkin, who is (among other things) a member of the editorial board of a journal called Vaccine. In a recent editorial he wrote for that journal, he made the sweeping claim that “Hooper’s ideas…have hindered eradication of polio by OPV in Africa”. As evidence, he cited a New York Times article; [Anon: “World briefing/ Africa: Nigeria: 3 States Halt Polio Drive”; New York Times; October 28, 2003, page A6].

In reality, this article states that three northern Nigerian states had refused polio vaccine “because they suspect that the vaccine spreads AIDS and causes cancer and infertility”. However, the article made no mention of any link either to The River, or to OPV/AIDS theory. Once again, therefore, there is no evidence to support the claims by Koprowski and Plotkin that my work, and/or my book, has caused polio cases (and, by implication, deaths from polio) in Africa.

Dr Plotkin’s aggressive position is reflected even more clearly in his e-mails. For instance, after viewing an early version of “The Origin of AIDS” for the first time in December 2003, Plotkin sent a furious e-mail (copied to others) to one of the directors, Peter Chappell. He particularly objected to the ending of the film (which suggested that pharmaceutical companies were concerned not only with safety, but also with profits), and he informed Chappell: “From henceforth, any cases of polio occurring in Africa because of fears that the vaccine is contaminated are on your head, and on Hooper’s. For shame!”

I find it particularly disturbing that, in their determination to try to score points, doctors Koprowski and Plotkin repeatedly claim that recent African refusals to take polio vaccine are linked to my book, and repeatedly allege that there are newspaper articles which support these conclusions.

As I have demonstrated, all these claims are fabrications. The consistent use of such fabrications by Hilary Koprowski and Stanley Plotkin reflects their repeated use of falsehood, fabrication and misrepresentation in other parts of the “origins of AIDS” debate.

What is most astonishing about this is that these gentlemen do not seem to realise that by repeatedly fabricating and falsifying evidence they do huge damage both to their credibility, and to their honour.


There was also one apparently independent confirmation that “The River” had damaged the polio vaccination drive in Kenya, and this came from Jon Cohen, who is the resident AIDS reporter for Science magazine. In an article of his (“The Hunt for the Origin of AIDS”) which was published in the October 2000 edition of Atlantic Monthly, Cohen wrote as follows:

Omu Anzala, an AIDS-vaccine researcher at the University of Nairobi, says that ripples from The River have “caused many problems” in Kenya. “When people read The River and they are not very scientific, the arguments are pretty convincing”, he says. Claiming that the vaccine contains HIV, some Kenyan clergymen have recently discouraged their countrymen from taking part in the current campaign to eradicate polio (which uses a thoroughly tested, contaminant-free OPV). “In the last six or seven months we’ve been trying to vaccinate as many people as we can”, Anzala says. “But certain segments of society have been saying, “Who knows whether the vaccine isn’t contaminated?”

This was an interesting paragraph. Although Cohen’s commentary implied that Anzala had linked the book to Kenyan rejection of the vaccine, the quoted passages by Anzala did not in themselves support that conclusion.

In July 2004 I caught up with Professor Anzala at his office in the University of Nairobi, and read him the passage in Jon Cohen’s article. His response was interesting. He repeatedly denied having made these statements, or, indeed, ever having spoken with any journalist about my book. He recalled speaking with Jon Cohen, but said that their discussion had been about AIDS vaccines. He said he had read The River twice and found it a fascinating book, one that had “raised issues that are still being discussed”. When I asked whether he felt that the book had caused any problems for Kenya’s polio eradication drive, Anzala replied: “The problems we have had with polio vaccination have been political problems, and have had nothing to do with The River.”

Background about Jon Cohen and his involvement in the origins-of-AIDS debate.

Jon Cohen has a long history of writing about the OPV/AIDS theory, and down the years his reporting of it has been disturbingly partisan. His first report dealt with Tom Curtis’s article in Rolling Stone, and was condescendingly titled: “Debate on AIDS origin: Rolling Stone weighs in”. He was dismissive of Curtis’s article, and quoted Hilary Koprowski as having told him, Cohen, that “macaques from the Philippines and India” had been used to make the vaccine used in the Congo. Later, in a follow-up letter also published in Science, Cohen claimed that with regard to the source of the kidneys for Koprowski’s vaccine, “I based what I wrote both on what he told me and what he published at the time.”

Many years later, in the months preceding the Royal Society meeting, I heard on the grapevine that Cohen was preparing a long article about the origins debate. Going against the advice of several others, who advised me that Cohen would try to denigrate the hypothesis come what may, I phoned Cohen and invited him to ask me anything he wanted about my work. He said that he had intended to contact me anyway, and so, during the next three or four weeks, we spent several hours on the phone and exchanged several e-mails.

Towards the end of this lengthy exchange, much of which had taken place on my phone time, I asked Cohen if I could put a few questions to him about his responses to the Tom Curtis article, and he agreed. Among these questions, I asked him what his sources were for his statement in Science that he had based what he had written about the kidneys used for making Koprowski’s vaccines “both on what [Koprowski] told me and what he published at the time.”

Cohen responded to my question by e-mail, as follows: “I was referring to page 1153 of ‘Live Poliomyelitis Virus Vaccines’, JAMA, 178(12), December 23, 1961. ‘The material used for growing polioviruses in tissue culture consists of living cells obtained from the freshly harvested kidneys from monkeys brought to the U.S. either from India or the Philippines.'”

The interesting thing about this Koprowski article is that it was published in December 1961, more than a year after Koprowski’s vaccines had been rejected in the US in favour of Sabin’s. Despite this, and the fact that he had by then written thirty-odd articles about polio vaccines, this was the first published statement that Koprowski had ever made about the specific primate species used for growing polioviruses. It was, I felt, something that Koprowski had published after the event, rather than “at the time”.

Furthermore (and more crucially), Koprowski’s statement about using Asian monkeys as a substrate appeared in a section of the article called “The Host Cell”, which uses the passive voice throughout, and which described general techniques then in use in different labs. What was most striking was that in this article, where he had an ideal opportunity to reveal which species he himself had been using, Koprowski failed to do so. He wrote not about the primate species that he himself had used, but instead about the species that are commonly used. (The passive voice, I have since learnt, is one that Koprowski often likes to adopt, especially – it seems – when he wishes to avoid becoming too specific in his statements.)

In his e-mail, Cohen acknowledged that the heading “The Host Cell” was general, that “the passive voice used throughout confuses things”. However, Cohen added that he didn’t agree with me that the context “makes it clear” that Koprowski is referring to techniques generally used, rather than ones he himself had used. He then repeated: “I think the context is confusing”.

Yet by writing this, Cohen admits the flaw in his own argument. In his letter to Science, he had claimed that this particular section of Koprowski’s article had supported Koprowski’s claims that he had used macaque kidneys to make his polio vaccines, and yet he now admitted that Koprowski’s writing in this instance was “confusing”. The Koprowski article had not really been “written at the time” (as Cohen had claimed), and it had not supported Koprowski’s claims of the 1990s that he had only used macaque kidneys as a polio vaccine substrate. Within the context of American journalism which is, at least nominally, religious about its sourcing, Jon Cohen had therefore misled the reader.

Cohen had ended that e-mail to me as follows: “I will admit this: I find re-analyzing Curtis’s article, my response to it, and your responses to my responses tedious and beside the point of exploring your thinking about the origin of the AIDS epidemic.”

That tetchy final statement was revealing, not least because this particular exchange had not been agreed to on the basis of his exploring my responses, but rather of my exploring his. I suspected that the other reason for his tetchiness was that he had been caught out in an error (though he still wasn’t admitting it).

In the end, Cohen’s report of the Royal Society origins meeting in Science was fair and balanced. But his Atlantic Monthly article is a very different kettle of fish. It is a deeply biased article, one that consistently praises the scientists opposing OPV/AIDS, while fairly relentlessly disparaging me.

To take but one example from Cohen’s text: “Hooper has devoted the past decade to researching his book; he portrays himself as an indefatigable investigator who will go to enormous lengths to confront mainstream researchers with their inconsistencies, illogical conclusions, and outright errors. (The River takes me to task as well, for a 1992 Science article in which I critically examined a Rolling Stone story by Tom Curtis about the polio-vaccine theory.) Hooper’s persona in the book is often professorial – “we shall see”, “let us” and “one wonders” – and even condescending, and many researchers who have spoken with him find him obstinate, overzealous, belligerent or worse.”

By the time I had read Cohen’s Atlantic article, I had concluded that here was a man I no longer trusted. I felt he was a very clever man, certainly, but one with a prior agenda, and one who, despite his apparently meticulous attention to detail, occasionally bent the rules (as in the example detailed above). Professor Odzala’s recent denials that he was accurately quoted by Cohen only serve to increase my doubts about him.

In any case, between 2000 and the present, I have heard other revealing stories about Jon Cohen. After our lengthy exchange by phone and e-mail, Cohen and I finally met up at the beginning of the Royal Society meeting, when he strode up to me, full of charm and apparent friendliness. By that stage, of course, his assassination job in the Atlantic was already completed – and down at the printers – so at the very least his approach to me was disingenuous. But in the weeks that followed, I heard from others who had spoken to Cohen, or who had heard him in conversation, at the meeting. Apparently he had been rather outspoken about his opposition to me and to the OPV/AIDS theory. One particular source of indignation, apparently, was his assertion that when I had interviewed Koprowski, Plotkin and others, I had not made it clear to them that I was especially interested in the origin of AIDS, and its possible links to CHAT vaccine.

But once again, Cohen’s stance was partisan. I have made my interest in the AIDS/polio controversy quite clear to most of my interviewees, including doctors Koprowski and Plotkin. However, I was under no obligation to do this. Does Jon Cohen really believe that at the start of every interview I should have said “I am currently 90% persuaded that CHAT vaccine as fed in Africa is linked to the start of the AIDS pandemic”? Does Cohen himself, I wonder, give such a statement of intent at the beginning of all his interviews – including those that deal with controversial topics?

The other interesting story I heard about Cohen came from a professor based in the US, who had had some dealings with Hilary Koprowski in the nineties. The two men had apparently been talking about the Tom Curtis article in Rolling Stone, and Koprowski had been expressing his disgust. “Well at least you seem to have a supporter in Jon Cohen”, said the professor, who had read the exchanges in Science. Koprowski apparently looked at him for some seconds, and then very deliberately mimed putting something into his top pocket. What did that mean?, I asked the professor. “Koprowski was indicating that he had Cohen in his pocket”, he explained.

Be that as it may (and I personally retain some doubts about whether Koprowski’s alleged implication is true), I do believe that Jon Cohen’s interventions in the “origins of AIDS” debate have been fairly consistently biased towards Hilary Koprowski’s position.

There is one major caveat to the last statement, which relates to when Cohen highlighted the shortcomings of phylogenetic dating as a method to predict the birth-date of HIV. I have been writing about the inherent flaws in the phylogenetic dating of HIV-1 for some years now, because the claim that the origins of HIV-1 can be accurately calculated (to the 1930s or 1940s) is a central tenet of committed OPV/AIDS opponents such as Hilary Koprowski, Stanley Plotkin, Beatrice Hahn and Robin Weiss.

It was, however, with some surprise that I came across Jon Cohen’s Science report of the 2002 International AIDS Conference in Barcelona, in the middle of which he wrote the following about the impact of recombination on phylogenetic dating:

“By isolating individual HIV-infected cells, Meyerhans and co-workers found evidence of at least two different variants – and as many as eight – a staggering 75% of the time. ‘It’s a really interesting and beautiful study,’ said Walker. The finding, published in this week’s issue of Nature, might help solve a long-standing puzzle: why multidrug resistance variants surface so quickly. It also raises serious questions about phylogeny trees that attempt to date the origin of HIV, all of which intentionally discard suspected recombinants to make the data interpretable.” [Science 2002; 297, 312-313]

For this paragraph, at least, I salute Mr Cohen.

Edward Hooper. October 14th, 2004.

Contaminated Polio Vaccine Theory Not Refuted

[Edward Hooper’s response to the latest brief communication in Nature by Michael Worobey, Beatrice Hahn and colleagues, entitled “Contaminated polio vaccine theory refuted”. Nature; 2004; 428; 820.]


The first thing to notice about this one-page paper by Worobey et al. is the media blitz that has preceded it. It has been heavily promoted on Nature‘s web-site for five days before publication, and features an embargo date, in the hope of ensuring coordinated media coverage.

Continue reading “Contaminated Polio Vaccine Theory Not Refuted”