The Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV)- AIDS theory….that’s an incredibly contentious issue. I don’t pretend to be a biologist or epidemiologist, but I do have to say that I find the theory interesting. Recently, I finished reading The River by Edward Hooper after two years of trying to get through it. College kept getting in the way. Now college is over, and the book likewise, so I have, for you, a short, amateur critique of the book, its theory, and its agents.
The OPV-AIDS theory basically contends that the AIDS pandemic was an accidental, man-made disaster that was brought about by large polio vaccinations that took place in the late 1950s in the Belgian Congo, Burundi, and Rwanda. The particular vaccine under suspicion is the CHAT vaccine created by Dr. Hilary Koprowski, a virologist and renowned scientist of the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia. Hooper suggests that chimpanzes were used for Monkey Kidney Tissue Cultures (MKTC) in order to create the vaccines. Koprowski and others involved refute this claim and say that African Green Monkeys were used although there is no hard, written evidence for either claim.
Nevertheless, Koprowski did create a chimp colony outside of Stanelyville (currently Kisangani) with the help of his friend, Ghislain Courtois, which housed between 400 and 600 chimps between 1956 and 1960. Koprowski suggests that these chimps were used for testing the polio vaccines and it’s effects and not for creating vaccine. However, with such a large, available pool of viable MKTC, it is hard to believe that a scientist would be able to resist. Especially in the era before we realized the dangers of using chimp MKTC.