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The Virus and the Vaccine

The true sto­ry of a can­cer-caus­ing mon­key virus, con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed polio vac­cine, and the mil­lions of Amer­i­cans exposed

The Virus and the Vaccine [1]by Deb­bie Bookchin and Jim Schu­mach­er
2005, St. Mar­t­in’s Grif­fin
ISBN-10: 0312342721
ISBN-13: 978–0312342722
400 pages.

Amazon.com Review
Past tragedies caused by “mir­a­cle drugs” have taught the pub­lic to approach cures with cau­tion, and vac­cines, in par­tic­u­lar, have come under pub­lic scruti­ny. In The Virus and the Vac­cine, jour­nal­ists Deb­bie Bookchin and Jim Schu­mach­er uncov­er the true tale of the polio vac­cine and its past and present dan­gers. Like many med­ical detec­tive sto­ries before it, this book starts with a chill­ing anec­dote, then flash­es back to slow­ly set the stage for dis­as­ter. Baby boomers who only know Jonas Salk and his virus-fight­ing col­leagues as heroes will be dis­turbed at how some of them down­played con­cerns about a mon­key virus called SV40 that was present in the polio vac­cine. The links between SV40 and human can­cer took a long time to define, and break­throughs in mol­e­c­u­lar biol­o­gy made the job more real­is­tic in lat­er decades. Nev­er­the­less, Bookchin and Schu­mach­er argue that a biased sci­en­tif­ic bureau­cra­cy in com­bi­na­tion with a des­per­ate pub­lic and mon­ey-hun­gry phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal! com­pa­nies fos­tered the use of a vac­cine that may have increased can­cer risk. “The vast major­i­ty of baby boomers–almost all of whom received polio vac­cine in the late 1950s and ear­ly 1960s–have poten­tial­ly been exposed to the virus,” they write. But baby boomers aren’t the only ones at risk. The authors reveal that Led­er­le Lab­o­ra­to­ries con­tin­ued to pro­duce poten­tial­ly con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed oral polio vac­cines well into the 1990s. Although the authors point fin­gers of blame at some spe­cif­ic tar­gets, they care­ful­ly bal­ance their accu­sa­tions with reminders that pub­lic demands for cures must be bal­anced with care­ful assess­ment of new med­ical treat­ments. –Therese Lit­tle­ton

THIS BOOK IS IN PRINT. Find out more [1].