Soviet polio drug infected by virus
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- Published 8.07.04
Paris, July 7 (AFP): Hundreds of millions of people in eastern Europe, Asia and Africa may have been injected with a Soviet polio vaccine which was contaminated by a monkey virus that has now been linked to cancer, the weekly science magazine New Scientist says.
Shoddy standards in Soviet vaccine plants meant that decontamination of the so-called Simian Virus 40 (SV40) was only 95 per cent effective, it says.
This meant that for nearly 20 years after SV40 was supposed to have been screened out, the Soviet Union continued to ship potentially infected vaccines to its eastern European allies.
“The vaccine was almost certainly used throughout the Soviet bloc and [was] probably exported to China, Japan and several countries in Africa,” the British weekly reports in next Saturday’s issue. “That means hundreds of millions could have been exposed to SV40 after 1963.”
After the polio vaccine was invented in 1955, pharmaceutical labs used cells from rhesus monkeys to prepare doses in commercial quantities. In 1960, SV40 was found in monkeys and soon after was detected in injected polio vaccines.