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Books, Journals, New Media
June 1, 2005


Author Affiliations

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; Journal Review Editor: Brenda L. Seago, MLS, MA, Medical College of Virginia Campus, Virginia Commonwealth University.

JAMA. 2005;293(21):2664-2668. doi:10.1001/jama.293.21.2664-a

Have military officials secretly conducted experiments involving an anthrax vaccine that contained squalene as an adjuvant? Does squalene induce severe autoimmune disease when used as an adjuvant? Readers who already have their minds made up on these questions are not likely to be persuaded otherwise by this book.

Readers who do not already have their minds made up are likely to become frustrated by this book, searching among the anecdotes, aspersions, and allegations for any kind of data that would help to draw a firm conclusion. Case histories describe career soldiers reduced to invalids or killed—allegedly by an anthrax vaccination—without objective medical data to tell us what is happening. Doctors at a world-famous medical clinic fail to make the “correct” diagnosis of reaction to anthrax vaccine, but we are not told what data they had to work with, what kind of doctors saw the patient, or what questions were asked of the doctors. A crucial experiment testing whether anthrax vaccine induces antisqualene antibodies is conducted by soldiers on themselves—but never published. Doctors contradict each other, military officers circle their wagons and contradict themselves, records are lost, improbable coincidences are discovered, and a conspiracy theory is born.

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