Two vaccine accidents in the United States in the 20th century

  After World War II, the number of children infected with “poliomyelitis (commonly known as polio)” in the United States has increased. In particular, the 1952 pandemic caused nearly 60,000 infections, thousands of deaths, and more than 20,000 disabilities. The panic of the American people has made it known as the “killer second only to nuclear war.” This virus has also become a major threat to the public health field in the United States.
  In early 1955, after the American doctor Jonas Shaq invented the polio vaccine, due to the urgent need for the vaccine from the society at that time, it was put into mass production. The FDA authorized five pharmaceutical companies to produce the vaccine, including Carter Pharmaceuticals in Berkeley, California.
  In April 1955, about 200,000 people were vaccinated against polio, but then news of adverse reactions spread, and some people were even paralyzed. The investigation found that the problematic vaccines were mainly concentrated in the products of the Carter Pharmaceutical Factory. With the increasing number of such cases, the mass vaccination was stopped in less than a month. In 10 days, a total of 120,000 children were vaccinated with two batches of inactivated vaccines produced by Carter Pharmaceuticals, resulting in 40,000 infections, 113 paralysis for life, 56 people suffering from paralytic poliomyelitis, and 5 children eventually Death. After the accident broke out, a large number of American parents who were deeply frightened refused to vaccinate their children.
  The investigation report of the Carter incident confirmed that the problematic vaccine was due to the imperfect production process, so that the polio virus did not fully contact the formalin responsible for inactivation, so that the virus was not completely inactivated. The congressional hearing concluded that although the Carter Pharmaceutical Factory lacked vaccine production experience and expertise, it “has no improper operation” and the main responsibility was the government regulatory agency. In 1954, researchers had reported that in previous animal experiments, there were The monkey became paralyzed after being vaccinated, but the agency turned a blind eye. This incident led to the resignation of the Minister of Health, Education and Welfare and the President of the National Institutes of Health.
  In the mid-1970s, the United States also experienced a large number of accidents caused by vaccination against Diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus. In order to change this situation, the US government learned from the pain and established a strict vaccine review and supervision production mechanism to ensure the safety of vaccines.
  The swine flu vaccination incident called “the largest vaccine accident in history” occurred in 1976. In the spring of that year, at the Army training base in New Jersey, a strong 18-year-old recruit died of a new type of swine flu virus. Through research, the American medical community was surprised to find that the antigenicity of the virus was similar to the pandemic influenza virus that raged around the world in 1918. The latter is known for its high mortality rate. At that time, the American medical community believed in the “10-year cycle of influenza”, that is, influenza viruses continue to mutate and produce a major change every 10 years or so. In 1976, it was exactly 10 years after the last influenza outbreak.
  On March 13, 1976, David Sensel, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States, applied for funding from Congress in the name of “preventing the spread of swine flu” to develop enough vaccines to vaccinate at least 80% of Americans. The then President Ford also called for vaccinations at a press conference on March 24. However, behind this decision is full of political calculations. 1976 is the 200th anniversary of the founding of the United States, and it is also an election year. Prior to this, the Ford government gave up its attempt to save the South Vietnamese regime, which meant that the Vietnam policy had completely failed, and the popular support rate had repeatedly hit record lows. “Using vaccination to save the people from the deadly flu” became the life-saving straw for the Ford government to boost support.
  But over time, the American medical community has begun to have different voices, believing that the swine flu epidemic may not be so serious, and the conditions of modern medicine are much better than in 1918. The World Health Organization has not requested a large-scale immunization campaign.
  However, none of these professional suggestions can stop political calculations. The U.S. Congress has begun to put pressure on pharmaceutical companies to urge them to speed up vaccine development.
  On October 1, the National Influenza Immunization Program of the United States officially started. By October 11, 1976, about 40 million Americans (approximately 24% of the total population) had been vaccinated against swine flu. Photos of Ford receiving the vaccination appeared on the front pages of many newspapers.
  However, on the evening of October 11, three elderly people in Pittsburgh died immediately after being vaccinated. This caused the American public’s confidence in the vaccine to plummet, believing that the plan “will kill the elderly and disable the children.” Subsequently, more and more feedback showed that the vaccination of the vaccine would cause the incidence of the rare disease “Guillain Barre’s Polyneuritis” to increase by 3.96 to 7.75 times. Amid the strong opposition from all parties, on December 16, 1976, the US National Influenza Immunization Program came to an end, leaving the US government with 4000 damage compensation lawsuits and the lingering fear of the American people about the flu vaccine. As a result, Ford lost to Carter in the election that year, becoming the first president to fail a re-election campaign since 1932.