"Unlicensed Vaccines and Bioweapon Defense in World War II"
Furmanski M. Unlicensed vaccines and bioweapon defense in World War II. JAMA. 1999 Sep 1;282(9):822. No abstract available.PMID: 10478686; UI: 99405791.
In a letter to the editor, Dr. Martin Furmanski of Newport Beach, California, notes that the use of unapproved vaccines for use
against biological agents occurred long before Operation Desert Storm. In 1942, the U.S. military vaccinated all active duty personnel against tetanus, typhoid, smallpox, and yellow fever. The vaccine for yellow fever had not yet been licensed for civilian use and a Food and Drug Administration version would not be available for more than a decade; however, the military decided to use the vaccine anyway in response to the Imperial Japanese Army's attempts to develop biological weapons. Despite the fact that the 1942 yellow fever vaccine had been reported to possibly cause jaundice after inoculation, the vaccinations began. The yellow fever vaccine used human serum, some lots of which were contaminated with hepatitis B. The result of the mass inoculation with the yellow fever vaccine was the largest point source outbreak of hepatitis B ever recorded. The hepatitis B outbreak began in March 1942, and yellow fever vaccinations ended in April 1942. Serologic investigation of those inoculated found 330,000 people infected after the vaccination program. A similar use of unlicensed vaccines almost occurred in 1944. The U.S. government considered vaccinating the entire D-Day assault force with botulinum toxoid following an erroneous report of Nazi weapons using botulinum toxin, but the U.S. Army Surgeon General refused to let the unapproved vaccination be used.