Friday, August 27, 2010

Truth needed on vaccine trials

Truth needed on vaccine trials
Irish Ind.
THE Government must disclose all that is known about controversial vaccine trials carried out on children in the care of the State in past decades.

The Irish Independent's initial revelations last week about vaccine tests carried out on very young children without their mothers' consent were alarming enough but at least the nature of those tests was known. It is now known that other tests were also conducted at that time, the nature of which is a mystery.

Our initial reports centred on Mari Steed, now aged 50, and three others who are to take legal action in the US courts against a multinational pharmaceutical company, on whose behalf the trials were conducted.

Ms Steed was subjected to the trial in the Sacred Heart Convent in Bessborough, Co Cork, when she was between nine and 18 months old, without her mother's consent.

There were a number of such trials. The first involved 58 children in five children's homes and the object was to discover what might happen if four vaccines, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus and polio, were combined in one overall 4-in-1 shot.

Another known trial involved 35 children who were administered the intra-nasal rubella vaccine.

A third involved 53 children in five institutions. It compared commercially available batches of the 3-in-1 vaccine with a modified vaccine prepared for the trial.

The subjects of these trials are understandably upset to discover that they were effectively used as guinea pigs when they were little more than babies, but at least they know the nature of the vaccines administered to them and the clear scientific purpose of what were, effectively, experiments.

Today we report that records of previously unknown vaccine trials were discovered years ago by the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse and that there have been confidential "discussions" about them for several years now, but mystery surrounds the nature of those trials.

A number of questions need to be answered by the relevant government agencies, not least of which are what was the nature of all the trials, how many children in state care were subjected to them and what consent was sought?

Given the level of official reticence to date, an independent public inquiry may be needed to get to the truth.

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