AIDS from Polio Vaccine?

Robin Hanson (
Tue, 16 Nov 1999 14:46:01 -0500

I read a review of this book in the Economist, and the reviews on

The River : A Journey to the Source of HIV and AIDS by Edward Hooper, Bill Hamilton

"is thesis, that HIV made the jump from simians to humans
via the administration of oral polio vaccine in Africa in the 1950s, is still controversial, but his arguments are powerful, broad, and undeniable--all that is lacking is conclusive proof." -- Amazon blurb

I am amazed that things could go this badly. I wonder how many lives were saved by vaccines in Africa, to weight against the possible cost of inducing the AIDS epidemic. I don't think vaccines had any measurable influence on deaths in the US. See:

John and Sonja McKinlay, "The Questionable Contribution of Medical Measures to the Decline of Mortality in the United States in the Twentieth Century" Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly/Health and Society, 55:405-428, 1977.

Robin Hanson Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323