When the United States declared war in April 1917, the fledgling Pharmaceutical industry had something they had never had before – a large supply of human test subjects in the form of the US military’s first draft.
Pre-war in 1917, the US Army was 286,000 men. Post-war in 1920, the US army disbanded, and had 296,000 men.
During the war years 1918-19, the US Army ballooned to 6,000,000 men, with 2,000,000 men being sent overseas. The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research took advantage of this new pool of human guinea pigs to conduct vaccine experiments.
A REPORT ON ANTIMENINGITIS VACCINATION AND OBSERVATIONS ON AGGLUTININS IN THE BLOOD OF CHRONIC MENINGOCOCCUS CARRIERS
by Frederick L. Gates
From the Base Hospital, Fort Riley, Kansas, and The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, New York.
Received 1918 Jul 20
(Author note: Please read the Fort Riley paper in its entirety so you can appreciate the carelessness of the experiments conducted on these troops.)
Between January 21st and June 4th of 1918, Dr. Gates reports on an experiment where soldiers were given 3 doses of a bacterial meningitis vaccine. Those conducting the experiment on the soldiers were just spitballing dosages of a vaccine serum made in horses.
The vaccination regime was designed to be 3 doses. 4,792 men received the first dose, but only 4,257 got the 2nd dose (down 11%), and only 3702 received all three doses (down 22.7%).
A total of 1,090 men were not there for the 3rd dose. What happened to these soldiers? Were they shipped East by train from Kansas to board a ship to Europe? Were they in the Fort Riley hospital? Dr. Gates’ report doesn’t tell us.
An article accompanying the American Experience broadcast I watched sheds some light on where these 1,090 men might be. Gates began his experiments in January 1918.
By March of that year, “100 men a day” were entering the infirmary at Fort Riley.
Are some of these the men missing from Dr. Gates’ report – the ones who did not get the 2nd or 3rd dose?
“… Shortly before breakfast on Monday, March 11, the first domino would fall signaling the commencement of the first wave of the 1918 influenza.
Company cook Albert Gitchell reported to the camp infirmary with complaints of a “bad cold.”
Right behind him came Corporal Lee W. Drake voicing similar complaints.
By noon, camp surgeon Edward R. Schreiner had over 100 sick men on his hands, all apparently suffering from the same malady…” (5)
Gates does report that several of the men in the experiment had flu-like symptoms: coughs, vomiting and diarrhea after receiving the vaccine.
These symptoms are a disaster for men living in barracks, travelling on trains to the Atlantic coast, sailing to Europe, and living and fighting in trenches.
The unsanitary conditions at each step of the journey are an ideal environment for a contagious disease like bacterial pneumonia to spread.
From Dr. Gates’ report:
“Reactions.– … Several cases of looseness of the bowels or transient diarrhea were noted. This symptom had not been encountered before. Careful inquiry in individual cases often elicited the information that men who complained of the effects of vaccination were suffering from mild coryza, bronchitis, etc., at the time of injection.”
“Sometimes the reaction was initiated by a chill or chilly sensation, and a number of men complained of fever or feverish sensations during the following night.
Next in frequency came nausea (occasionally vomiting), dizziness, and general “aches and pains” in the joints and muscles, which in a few instances were especially localized in the neck or lumbar region, causing stiff neck or stiff back. A few injections were followed by diarrhea.
The reactions, therefore, occasionally simulated the onset of epidemic meningitis and several vaccinated men were sent as suspects to the Base Hospital for diagnosis.”(4)
According to Gates, they injected random dosages of an experimental bacterial meningitis vaccine into soldiers. Afterwards, some of the soldiers had symptoms which “simulated” meningitis, but Dr. Gates advances the fantastical claim that it wasn’t actual meningitis.
The soldiers developed flu-like symptoms. Bacterial meningitis, then and now, is known to mimic flu-like symptoms. (6)
Perhaps the similarity of early symptoms of bacterial meningitis and bacterial pneumonia to symptoms of flu is why the vaccine experiments at Fort Riley have been able to escape scrutiny as a potential cause of the Spanish Flu for 100 years and counting.