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June 18, 1982

Pure Politics and Impure Science: The Swine Flu Affair

JAMA. 1982;247(23):3268-3269. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320480074038

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


In this small volume, Dr Silverstein broadly reviews the Swine Influenza Immunization Program. The author's background uniquely qualifies him for this review. He was on Capitol Hill in 1976 as the first Congressional Science Fellow of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology and saw the event unfold firsthand; he also is an immunologist and has worked with the influenza virus. As described in the preface, he decided to write this book when he read other accounts of the program and its aftermath, especially that of Professors Neustadt and Fineberg of Harvard (The Swine Flu Affair, Government Printing Office, 1978) and said to himself, "That's not what really happened." On further consideration, Silverstein concluded that the problem was not of fact, but rather of interpretation. In his view, the event unfolded like a Greek tragedy, in which no one was at fault, and if there was a culprit it