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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 Hardcover – April 29, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0312278724 ISBN-10: 0312278721 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (April 29, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312278721
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312278724
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #287,073 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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

From Publishers Weekly

Journalists Bookchin and Schumacher argue that for nine years, from 1954 to 1963, almost every dose of polio vaccine produced in the worldâ€"and the 98 million Americans who received polio vaccinationsâ€"was contaminated with a cancer-causing virus from the monkey kidneys used to develop the vaccine. Although the polio vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk virtually ended polio as a threatening disease, the authors detail how "the screening techniques and observation periods that Salk and the vaccine manufacturers employed were not capable of always catching the contaminants." This sordid story spells out how repeated research studies showing that the "SV40" virus was in the vaccine were dismissed by federal health officials, so that "there would be no warning to consumers that the vaccine they and their children were receiving contained a live monkey virus whose effect on humans was entirely unknown." In the second part, the authors contend that even today such organizations as the National Institutes of Health continue to dismiss study results, even though numerous studies have shown that SV40 is capable of causing cancer in humans. The final and most horrific part of the story reports that Lederle Laboratories, the sole oral vaccine supplier in the U.S. from 1977 onward, continued to use monkey kidneys possibly infected by the SV40 virus in its manufacturing process until oral polio vaccine was removed from the market as late as January 2000. This meticulously researched, levelheaded and well-written book should stir up considerable debate. Because the authors never become alarmist, this solid work of investigative reporting carries considerable weight, and deserves to be read by a large audience.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

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This book is an excellent resource for those who want more information about SV40.
Desiree Hayes
Anyone who wonders why the U.S. government would allow it's citizens to continue to receive vaccines if they were harmful needs to read this book.
KC
There are many lessons that can be and should be learned from the polio vaccine history and SV-40 story.
NC Reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

81 of 83 people found the following review helpful By NC Reader on July 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This story is incredible and likely to disturb readers to the core. There are so many ways to go with writing a review. First, there's the readability factor: Scores a 10 there - it's a page turner as others have written. I read it over the course of 3 nights and found, like others, that it reads like a thriller or perhaps even a Grisham novel - only this story is TRUE.

Second, there's the important lessons for all of humankind factor: Scores a 10 in this department as well. Polio vaccine is a human invention; human beings are not infallible, they have never been infallible, and by extension there never has been nor will there ever be a human invention that is not prone to errors in human thinking, reasoning, and judgment and not subject to continuous improvements and/or great change as human knowledge advances.

Despite this undeniable truth, large health organizations and government health agencies would like the public to believe a very one-sided message about polio vaccine: that it is a medical milestone worthy of great praise and worship as it has delivered mankind from the evils of the childhood affliction of polio. Amen.

But that's only half the story. This book is about the other half - the one you won't read about in the press and that's about a great trade off of the polio vaccine. In exchange for reducing the rate of paralytic polio instances in childhood, has this wondrous medical marvel cut decades off many of our friends' and neighbors' lives? We all know people, some of them really great people, who died of rare and mysterious cancers in their 30s, 40s and 50s. They were diagnosed with cancer and as soon as treatments began their tumors spread fast and they succumbed quickly to their strange form of cancer.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By CircaRigel VINE VOICE on June 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I'm glad that someone has finally gone public, really public, about the contamination of polio vaccines with SV40. I was 25 when I was diagnosed with collapsing variant Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis, and immediately sought out research to try and find some help, and hope for my situation. The researcher I found is mentioned in the book as being one of the lucky few who is funded for SV40 Research. He has found the virus in a high percentage of patients with this kidney disease, including me. What the book doesn't say is that at the time he focused on SV40, he was searching for possible viral causes for the disease, and that's what his grant was for. When he sought a grant to focus on SV40 exclusively as a cause, his grant was denied.
I, too, am a researcher, and will soon be attending medical school. For the most part, I have been fortunate. I have recovered fully, while most of those afflicted with this disease don't, even with transplants. It recurs in the new organ. There is no telling whether my recovery is temporary or permanent. The researcher in question has come to regard me as a colleague, and even though he has lost his funding, he firmly believes SV40 plays a role in the disease, and has the data to support it. He will not give up on trying to find further funding for research in this area. It is my hope that people will not only read this book, but also be prompted by their curiosity to read the scientific papers cited in it, as I had already done prior to even knowing this book was coming. This book is the first to compile all of the data together and to reveal the overall conclusion- An error was made in the rush to find a way to prevent polio. One can accept that error in the short term for the benefit vs. risk during the polio epidemic.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book rocked my world,as a baby boomer with a fatal brain cancer.I have always been a proponent of vaccines and had my now 26 year old son vaccinated with everything around.Now he has a baby daughter and he and his wife have decided not to have her vaccinated for anything but tetnaus.I am totally behind them now,which is probably one of the reasons this information has been supressed so long.
I had to put the book down in the middle for a week or so,I was so outraged at the governments denial of this simian virus 40 and how they trashed,fired,and vilified every researcher that found SV40 in cancer.
I am a medical professional so the book was not too difficult to understand,but I would not recommend it to someone who sticks to "light reading."
Got 15 pages more but needed a break.I am supposed to get flu shots but will be looking at syringes full of vaccine with a much warier eye.
Anyone remember the "hog flu" during Fords administration that was supposed to be a horrible epidemic? It turned out to be nothing and people were getting awful (like Guillan-Barre) side effects from it.
Cripes,I need a punching bag.I guess the NIH will have to do.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Desiree Hayes on December 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is an excellent resource for those who want more information about SV40. It is ridiculous that the government sat on this info and because of it, people are dying from cancer. The book is not written in a conspiracy theory type of way. Very factual information given. Kudos to the authors!
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By KC on May 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I'm not going to repeat all the great things the previous reviewers have written. It's all true. Yes, this book does become complicated, but as you continue to read on, everything begins to fall into place. I couldn't put it down. This is not an "anti-vaccine" book. It is a factual account of how the polio vaccine came to be, the harms it's done to humans, why that harm occurred and why it was allowed to continue, as well as the players involved. It was interesting to learn how the government, researchers and vaccine manufacturers are intertwined with each other. Anyone who wonders why the U.S. government would allow it's citizens to continue to receive vaccines if they were harmful needs to read this book.
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