US vaccine experiment on Third World babies &&

Wednesday, August 14, 1996 - 10:00

US government agencies and research groups conducted experiments with high dosages of the Edmonston-Zagreb (EZ) measles vaccine from 1987 to 1991 on thousands of babies in Haiti, Mexico, Senegal, Guinea Bissau and African-American and Latino neighbourhoods in Los Angeles, according to information from the Washington Office on Haiti (WOH) and the National Vaccine Information Center.

Babies as young as six months were given from 10 to 500 times the normal dosage. Health authorities ignored warnings in 1990 from the French director of the Senegal project, who reported abnormal mortality rates among the babies, especially the girls.

The program was abruptly halted more than a year later, after the director published his findings in the British medical journal Lancet (October 12, 1991) and independent studies confirmed the Senegal report.

At that time, the World Health Organisation (WHO) was planning to administer 250 million high-level EZ doses in Third World countries; an unnamed demographer estimates that the WHO program would have led to 18 million excess infant deaths.

On June 16 officials of the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) admitted that the agency had sponsored a 1989-1991 EZ experiment conducted by Kaiser Permanente of California on nearly 1500 babies in Los Angles. Parents were not told the EZ vaccine was experimental. The CDC says none of the infants were harmed.

The Mexico study was conducted in 1987 on 1360 babies in three areas. The experiment was jointly sponsored by the CDC and the Mexican Health Secretariat, with funding from the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

In Haiti the vaccine was given to 2097 babies from 1987 to 1988 in Port-au-Prince's Cite Soleil section. About half the babies were already enrolled in an HIV research program, and the follow-up study did not count some 100 deaths among these children, on the assumption that they died of HIV-related causes. The study was administered by Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University and the USAID-funded Centres for Development and Health.
[From Weekly News Update on the Americas, 339 Lafayette St., New York, NY, 10012, USA; email nicanet@blythe.org.]

From GLW issue 242