Edward Hooper, Somerset, U.K. October 15, 2000
All three papers presented by doctors Plotkin and Koprowski at this conference were characterised by inaccuracies, errors and obfuscation.
Because of work pressures, I have not yet found the time to draw up a response to the additional article by S.A. Plotkin, D.E. Teuwen, A. Prinzie and J. Desmyter, “Postscript relating to new allegations made by Edward Hooper at the Royal Society Discussion meeting on 11 September 2000”; Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. Lond. B; 2001; 356; 825-830. This article was added to the proceedings of the Royal Society meeting on “Origins of HIV and the AIDS Epidemic” in response to the paper which I delivered at the meeting, and its inclusion in the published papers appeared to be a matter of some secrecy. The fact that I was not allowed to make a similar response to the papers delivered by Plotkin and Koprowski at that meeting is suggestive of bias on the part of professors Weiss and Wain-Hobson, who edited the proceedings.
For the time being, therefore, I restrict myself to the responses I made in October 2000 to the original speeches that were delivered by professors Plotkin and Koprowski on September 11, 2000.
1) My response to “Untruths and Consequences: The False Hypothesis Linking CHAT Type 1 Polio Vaccination to the Origin of HIV”, by Dr Stanley Plotkin.
It is my belief that Dr Stanley Plotkin’s paper presented at the Royal Society on September 11, 2000, “Untruths and Consequences”, contains many incorrect statements, and that – given the attention which has been focussed on Dr Plotkin’s claims – it is important that these should not continue to go unchallenged.
The comments below refer to statements made in Dr Plotkin’s speech (“Oral Version #7”, which was circulated at the Royal Society meeting), itemised by (a) page number and (b) paragraph number.
Page 2, paragraph 3: PLOTKIN’S CLAIM: “[Hooper’s] argument…boils down to two assertions: first, that the vaccine was prepared in the kidneys of SIV-infected chimpanzees…
RESPONSE: I do not ASSERT that CHAT vaccine was prepared in chimpanzee kidneys. I hypothesise that this may have happened, and provide background evidence to support that hypothesis. [The claim that I have asserted what I have in fact hypothesised is a subtle, but persistent, misrepresentation which appears throughout Dr Plotkin’s paper. See, for instance, 6/6, 8/2 and 10/3 etc.]
3/2: The typed history of CHAT from 1958 or early 1959, as provided by Dr Plotkin and copied in slide 3, represents the first time that the CHAT vaccine developers have ever provided any type of passage history for this vaccine. It is therefore very welcome. However, it still provides no evidence about the substrate in which different pools of CHAT vaccine were produced – at the Wistar Institute, in Belgium, or elsewhere.
3/4 (point 2). PLOTKIN’S CLAIM: “All passages are indicated as having been made in MK, standing for monkey kidney cells…I would have never referred to chimpanzee kidney as monkey kidney”.
RESPONSE: This assertion by Dr Plotkin cannot be proven. It is of note that the normal dictionary definition for “monkey” includes the great apes (such as chimpanzees), and that, by these standards, there would be no reason not to include “chimp kidney tissue culture” within the umbrella of “monkey kidney tissue culture”.
3/4 (point 2). PLOTKIN’S CLAIM: “These [MK] were cells of rhesus or cynomolgus origin, received as suspended cells or monolayers from Microbiological Associates”
RESPONSE: Again, this assertion by Dr Plotkin cannot be proven. The species used for vaccine production is never mentioned in any of the CHAT papers before the 1960s – long after the key period for this debate. (By contrast, the primate species used for the safety testing of CHAT vaccine is frequently specified.) And the first reference to cells for poliovirus culture being supplied by Microbiological Associates – in a paper on genetic markers, not on vaccines – comes in 1960.
3/6 (point 4): PLOTKIN’S CLAIM: “No seed virus was used. Rather each [vaccine] pool served as seed virus for a subsequent [vaccine] pool.”