December 28

1941–1958: Infectious disease experiments: institutionalized children “canaries in the mines”

1941–1945: U.S. Committee on Medical Research (CMR) was dedicated to wartime medicine; it funded and coordinated 137 institutions in the US that conducted research — including chemical warfare agents and prevention of infectious diseases tested on prisoners and children.

CMR-funded infectious disease experiments: institutionalized children were used as “canaries in the mines” to test the safety of experimental vaccines for malaria, influenza, dysentery, and sexually transmitted diseases. For example, children at the Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Home, at the Dixon Institution for the Retarded in Illinois, and the New Jersey State Colony for the Feeble-Minded, were used to test experimental vaccines against dysentery that caused severe reactions adverse in the children — thereby precluding the use of the vaccine in the military.

In some of the CMR-funded experiments, vaccination was accompanied by deliberate challenge with the infectious agent. After vaccination against influenza, children developed painful nodules. Three to six months after being vaccinated, the children were exposed to a preparation of the virus for four minutes. Some of the subjects developed influenza.
(Lederer. Military Medical Ethics, 2003, p.514)


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