The recent Faria paper in Science: More flimsy AIDS origins speculations

Several people have recently asked (either via the AIDS Origins site or via on-line message boards) for my opinions on the latest article about dating the beginning of the AIDS epidemic to Leopoldville/KInshasa in 1920.

The article is called “The early spread and epidemic ignition of HIV-1 in human populations“, and though released earlier on-line, it was formally published in the October 5th, 2014 issue of Science; [2014; 346; 56-61]. Most of the article is consistent with the rest of the work by its authors: the mooted early history of HIV-1 is nothing more or less than computer-generated guesswork.

But the authors have had a major rethink about one of the previous problem areas in their work, and one crucial aspect of their analysis, though they do not advertise it, now aligns precisely with what I have been proposing for several years. In fact, it serves as another powerful confirmation of the OPV hypothesis. All this is explained in more detail in the notes below.
Continue reading “The recent Faria paper in Science: More flimsy AIDS origins speculations”

Nobel Prize-winner Lambasts Nature and Science

For many years I have been criticising Nature and Science for their biased mis-reporting and distortion of the Origins-of-AIDS debate.

Now a leading scientist – the latest winner of the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine, the US biologist Randy Schekman – has come out in public to criticise these journals for distorting the scientific process, and for representing a tyranny that needs to be broken.

Continue reading “Nobel Prize-winner Lambasts Nature and Science”

NYT Letter: Hilary Koprowski

Sent to the Letters page of the NYT on 22/4/2013, but not printed…

Letter to the editor: re “Hilary Koprowski, Who Developed First Live-Virus Polio Vaccine, Dies at 96”, by Margalit Fox; (4/20/13).


Margalit Fox’s obituary of Hilary Koprowski (April 20, 2013) claims the theory that his oral polio vaccine (OPV) sparked the AIDS pandemic has been “discredited”. This is untrue. In 2001 Belgian and Congolese ex-workers from the medical laboratory at Stanleyville, Belgian Congo, and the nearby chimpanzee facility at Lindi Camp, where 500 chimpanzees were sacrificed in 42 months, reported that chimpanzee kidneys and blood had been used in the late 1950s to prepare local batches of Koprowski’s OPV. Such batches were fed to one million Africans, but (unlike US-made batches) they were never tested for HIV-1. Similarly, the other claims allegedly “disproving” the OPV theory are based on faulty assertions and questionable hypotheses. The ancestral host to the immediate ancestor of HIV-1 is a chimpanzee subspecies (Pan troglodytes troglodytes, Ptt) that, it is alleged, was not found at Lindi Camp, but I have recently demonstrated that Ptt chimps were present there. The theoretical claim that HIV-1 first existed in 1908 is unsafe; it emanates from a mutation-based model which is inappropriate for lentiviruses, which evolve mainly through recombination. The earliest HIV-1 samples are from 1959 and 1960, and come from Leopoldville, Belgian Congo. Koprowski’s Congolese OPV trials began in 1957.

Edward Hooper

Hilary Koprowski: LA Times Obituary

Los Angeles Times

April 22, 2013 Monday
Home Edition

OBITUARIES; HILARY KOPROWSKI, 1916 – 2013; Researcher developed live-virus oral polio vaccine

Hilary Koprowski, a Polish-born researcher who developed the first successful oral vaccine for polio, has died. He was 96.

Koprowski died of pneumonia April 11 at his Philadelphia home, said his son, Dr. Christopher Koprowski, a radiation oncologist.

In 1950, Hilary Koprowski showed that it was possible to use his live-virus oral vaccine against polio, which had plagued the United States and other countries for decades.

Another researcher, Dr. Albert Sabin, would win the race to get an oral vaccine licensed in the U.S. while Jonas Salk would develop an injectable vaccine that eliminated much of the disease in the country.
The two other scientists were far better known for helping to eradicate polio, but Koprowski’s contribution was considered groundbreaking.

“Both Salk and Sabin became public figures, quite justifiably,” Koprowski told the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2000. “They traveled the world, meeting presidents and kings, whereas I got to continue my work. I believe this was a better way for me.”

Controversy often followed the feisty Koprowski. Continue reading “Hilary Koprowski: LA Times Obituary”

Hilary Koprowski: NY Times Obituary

The New York Times

April 21, 2013 Sunday

Hilary Koprowski Dies at 96; Developed First Live-Virus Polio Vaccine

Margalit Fox

It was a brew to rival any in ”Macbeth.” The main ingredients were rat brain and a fearsome, carefully cultivated virus.

In his laboratory in Pearl River, N.Y., 20 miles north of Manhattan, Dr. Hilary Koprowski macerated the ingredients in an ordinary kitchen blender one January day in 1948. He poured the result — thick, cold, gray and greasy — into a beaker, lifted it to his lips and drank. It tasted, he later said, like cod liver oil.

With that sip, Dr. Koprowski, a virologist who died on April 11 at 96, inoculated himself against polio, years before the vaccines of Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin.

Dr. Koprowski was one of the world’s foremost biomedical researchers, helping usher in a spate of innovations, including a safer, less painful and more effective rabies vaccine that remains widely used. Continue reading “Hilary Koprowski: NY Times Obituary”

Hilary Koprowski: The Independent Obituary

The Independent (London)

April 18, 2013 Thursday

Dr Hilary Koprowski; Virologist who developed the first oral vaccine against polio

Phil Davison

A Polish Jew who had fled the Nazi invasion and settled in the US, Hilary Koprowski developed the first oral vaccine against poliomyelitis, the infant paralysis which swept across North America, the British Isles and beyond in the postwar years, causing death or disability. To demonstrate faith in his research in 1948, he swallowed a cocktail including the ground-up brain of a rat which had been deliberately infected with the polio virus. He showed no ill-effects from the dose, which was still a “live” virus, though “attenuated” or reduced, then tested it on child inmates of an institution for the physically or mentally disabled in New York. Although it is almost inconceivable that such tests could be allowed today, they proved a medical success in that the children suffered no ill-effects.

Continue reading “Hilary Koprowski: The Independent Obituary”

Hilary Koprowski: The Daily Telegraph Obituary

The Daily Telegraph (London)

April 16, 2013 Tuesday

Hilary Koprowski; Virologist who pioneered the first successful oral vaccine against polio

HILARY KOPROWSKI, who has died aged 96, developed the first successful oral vaccine against polio, but lost out in the race to gain an official licence.

The competition to find a polio vaccine began in 1938, when Franklin D Roosevelt (himself stricken with the disease) founded the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. Jonas Salk, who would develop the first injectable vaccine, concentrated on dead polio virus. Koprowski, though, reasoned that a live but weakened (or attenuated) form of the virus would more closely mimic an actual polio infection.

Many scientists were wary of using the live virus, fearing that even in its weakened state it might still be dangerous. But in January 1948 Koprowski gulped down a preparation made with ground-up cotton-rat brain infected with attenuated polio virus. He survived, and two years later 20 boys and girls at a home for children with learning difficulties were given doses of the same mixture, with no ill effects. Continue reading “Hilary Koprowski: The Daily Telegraph Obituary”

Koprowski Passes On, But Others Repeat the Same Old Untruths About How AIDS Began

There has been a remarkably low-key response by the medical community to the passing of Dr Hilary Koprowski. Five days have passed, and the only reports that I have seen to date are the Associated Press report already mentioned (which has been used by the New York Times, the Huffington Post and others), and an article by Stacey Burling in the Philadelphia Inquirer, entitled “Hilary Koprowski, Polio Vaccine Pioneer, Dead at 96”.

Koprowski lived in a well-to-do suburb on the outskirts of Philadelphia for most of his final 56 years, so this is effectively his home-town newspaper.

The latter article, whilst featuring a largely accurate account of Koprowski’s life, also contained the following paragraph, which is factually inaccurate throughout.

“A discredited theory blamed clinical trials of his [Koprowski’s] polio vaccine in the Congo for providing the bridge from chimps to humans for the AIDS virus. Scientific experts conclusively debunked the theory in 2001.”

In reality, the so-called oral polio vaccine (or OPV) theory of origin of AIDS has never been discredited or debunked, though many in the medical community would apparently like to believe that it has been.

In reality, each of the alleged “disproofs” of the OPV theory is phoney. Continue reading “Koprowski Passes On, But Others Repeat the Same Old Untruths About How AIDS Began”

Hilary Koprowski: The Philadelphia Inquirer Obituary

The Philadelphia Inquirer

April 14, 2013 Sunday

Hilary Koprowski, polio vaccine pioneer, dead at 96

Stacey Burling

Hilary Koprowski, a virologist and former director of the Wistar Institute who developed the first polio vaccine and helped improve the rabies vaccine for humans, has died.

Koprowski, who was 96 and had been in declining health in recent months, died Thursday of pneumonia at his home in Wynnewood, according to his son Christopher Koprowski, chief of radiation oncology at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center at the Christiana Care Health System.

“Hilary Koprowski left an enduring mark on medical science and the health of humankind, and his many accomplishments serve as a testament to his legacy,” said Russel E. Kaufman, president and chief executive officer of the Wistar Institute. Continue reading “Hilary Koprowski: The Philadelphia Inquirer Obituary”

The Death of Hilary Koprowski

It has just been announced that Dr Hilary Koprowski died on Thursday April 11th, at the age of 96.

The first report I have seen comes from The Huffington Post, and at the head of the following comments we learn that “HuffPo is filtering out the justifiable controversy surrounding this mans career.” It will be interesting to see what sort of coverage Koprowski’s death engenders elsewhere in the coming days.

As many readers of this site will know, Dr Koprowski has been a focus of my investigations for the last 20 or more years. There is much that remains to be told about his activities in Africa in the late 1950s. But clearly this is not the right moment.

I realise that Dr Koprowski’s family and friends will be grieving his loss, so let me offer my condolences to them.

Ed Hooper April 14, 2013