Two UK vCJD Deaths Confirmed
As Coming From POLIO Vaccine
By Valerie Elliott
Consumer Editor
The Times - London

A POTENTIAL link has been found between the human form of "mad cow" disease and a batch of polio vaccine given to as many as 80,000 people.
Scientists have established that in 1994 two teenagers who later developed the fatal brain condition variant Creutzfeldt Jakob disease (vCJD) received an oral polio vaccine containing British cattle material from the same batch. The victims have not been identified.
Drug companies were advised in 1989 that they should not use bovine material from Britain or any other country with BSE-infected herds, but a loophole emerged because the guidelines from the Department of Health applied only to injectable vaccines. Oral polio vaccines using British cattle products continued to be manufactured and distributed.
It was only last year when the Government formally withdrew them as a precautionary measure. Health advisers on the Government's Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) last night emphasised that there was no causal link between the victims having the vaccine and contracting the disease and that it could be coincidental.
They also told parents that they should not withdraw their children from the polio vaccination programme. The Department of Health made it clear that bovine material in vaccines today comes from Australia, New Zealand, the United States or Canada.
Deirdre Cunningham, a member of SEAC and director of public health in Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham, said: "There is absolutely no justification for ruining the vaccination and immunisation programme." The programme has virtually eliminated polio from Britain.
The coincidental link was revealed when scientists from the national CJD surveillance unit in Edinburgh examined possible connections between five vCJD victims from the Southampton area. Medical records showed that two had received oral polio vaccine from the same batch in 1994 when they were teenagers. One was a school-leaver and the other about to go to college.
Most people receive the polio vaccines as babies with a follow-up pre-school booster at about the age of four. It is also offered to school-leavers and adults travelling overseas.
The batch of up to 80,000 doses was available for a three-month period from October to the end of December in 1994 and was distributed throughout the country. The batch was part of six million identical doses that were available in a two-year period from 1994. No other of the 113 vCJD victims received the vaccine from this batch.
Frances Hall, spokeswoman of the Human BSE Foundation, said: "This possible link with vaccine must be investigated very closely. Who knows if it is a coincidence or not?",,2-2001582596,00.html
Some Scientists Say Polio Vaccines Not Linked vCJD Deaths
LONDON (Reuters) - British scientists researching the human form of mad cow disease ruled out polio vaccinations as a source of infection on Monday after checking two patients who had gotten vaccines from the same batch.
"The committee do not in any way think there was a link to the vaccine,'' Peter Smith, chairman of the government's advisory committee on bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), told a news conference on Monday.
Researchers looked into the vaccine when investigating factors held in common by patients with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), the fatal brain-wasting condition believed to be linked to BSE-tainted meat.
The two patients were linked by a batch of standard-issue polio vaccine. The possibility of infection through bovine calf serum used in the vaccines prompted further investigations.
But scientists found that those given vaccine made using UK-sourced cattle products were no more likely to develop vCJD than those treated with vaccines that did not contain bovine material from Britain.
Variant CJD has killed more than 100 people in the UK since doctors distinguished it as a new form of the rare brain-wasting disease CJD in 1996.
Both CJD and BSE are believed to be caused by rogue forms of prion proteins, molecules found in nerve cells.
Many scientists believe humans can get vCJD from eating BSE-infected meat, and research has found that prions from vCJD patients and cattle infected with mad cow disease have similar protein fingerprints, which at the same time differ from those of patients with standard CJD.

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