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Measles (Serum Inoculation)

Volume 345: debated on Thursday 30 March 1939

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asked the Minister of Health where the 37 cases, with seven deaths, after inoculation with convalescent measles serum, referred to on page 39 of the last Annual Report of his chief medical officer, occurred; whether any inquests were held on the fatal cases; whether his medical officers held an inquiry into the circumstances and, if so, will he consider the desirability of publishing their report with a view to such steps being taken as may, if possible, prevent a recurrence of similar disasters?

Eighteen of these cases occurred in Oxfordshire, eleven in Essex, six in Berkshire and one each in Surrey and Sussex. With regard to the second part of the question, I am informed that an inquest was not held on any of the fatal cases. With regard to the third and fourth parts of the question, investigations into this group of cases, which I am advised are of a highly exceptional character, are still being carried out by the medical staff of my Department, with the assistance of representatives of the Medical Research Council and other medical authorities, and I am not at present in a position to make any statement about the publication of a report.

Can the Minister inform me why no post mortem inquests were held in respect of these deaths, and does not he think it also advisable now further to investigate the merits or demerits of this dangerous serum?

The question of inquests, is, of course, a matter for the coroner over which my right hon. Friend has no control. With regard to the second part of his question, of course the most careful investigations are being made.