Royal Society Publishing

Untruths and consequences: the false hypothesis linking CHAT type 1 polio vaccination to the origin of human immunodeficiency virus

Stanley A. Plotkin


A book published in 1999 hypothesized that the scientists who worked with the CHAT type 1 attenuated polio strain tested in the former Belgian Congo in the late 1950s had covertly prepared the vaccine in chimpanzee kidney cells contaminated with a simian immunodeficiency virus, which evolved into HIV–1 group M. This paper summarizes the results of the investigation conducted by the author to determine the legitimacy of the accusation. Testimony by eyewitnesses, documents of the time, epidemiological analysis, and ancillary phylogenetic, virologic and PCR data all concur to reject the hypothesis as false and without factual foundation.