Vaccines warning ignored by MoD
By Jackie Bytheway, The Sunday Post (Scotland), 31 May 2004

NEW evidence has come to light that scientists warned the MoD of their concerns about giving soldiers pertussis and anthrax vaccines before the first Gulf War.

But the test results and evidence were destroyed just after the conflict.

Now new research, details of which have been leaked to The Sunday Post, appear to back up the original fears.

The National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC), at Potters Bar in Hertfordshire, carried out the tests and voiced their concerns in 1990.

The results of their studies showed severe reactions and significant damage to the auto immune system in mice.

In a letter from the NIBSC to the Department of Health, written on December 21, 1990, a scientist warned the anthrax and pertussis vaccines caused side-effects to laboratory animals.

He said, "I would emphasise that these findings are preliminary, but they do suggest that if used in man as a combined preparation an enhanced degree of reactagenicity could occur.

"The users of the vaccines may wish to take these findings in consideration."

In a letter the same day from the Department of Health to the MoD, one scientist said, "I think your medical department needs to be aware of these preliminary results."

But the MoD ignored their concerns and tens of thousands of troops were inoculated.

Results destoyed

Many had three combined jabs of anthrax with pertussis in three weeks. They were also given two plague injections, as well as yellow fever, tetanus, polio, hepatitis B, hepatitis A, rabies, meningococcal C and diphtheria.

But the NIBSC have admitted they destroyed the results.

In a letter to the National Gulf Veterans and Family Association sent last month Dr Michael Corbel, head of bacteriology, said, "At the request of the MoD, for obvious reasons of national security, the original studies were performed under strict secrecy.

"Once the emergency was over, all data relating to these studies were destroyed as there was at that time no indication that they would ever be needed again."

The NIBSC has recently carried out repeat studies, which they said "broadly confirm the previous observations".

A copy of the current research, due to be published later this year, has been leaked to The Sunday Post.

The leaked report states that within a few hours of injection the mice were seen suffering lethargy, arched backs, squinted eyes and ruffled fur. By the 12th day, two mice had died and six more were culled because of poor health.

All mice developed enlarged spleens.

The NIBSC said they were unable to comment on their warning given to the MoD in 1990. They added they couldn't comment on the latest report as it is unpublished.

An MoD spokesman said, "The researchers have made it very clear that caution should be exercised in applying these results to humans.

"The DoH did not tell the MoD that it should not vaccinate troops with anthrax and pertussis -its advice was that our medical department needs to be aware of these preliminary results.

"The reference to a 'mouse dose' is misleading. The original studies were carried out using four to five times the human dose. The follow-up studies were carried out using a single human dose (in accordance with current Home Office guidelines).

"There is no evidence that thousands of Gulf War veterans are suffering from auto-immune conditions."