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Whooping Cough (Vaccine Tests)

Volume 437: debated on Thursday 22 May 1947

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asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been called to the experiments on 600 babies in London and Manchester by injecting them with different varieties of vaccine; what are the exact contents of each of these vaccines and how is each obtained; what evidence is there that any of them have any effect on maintaining the normal health of the baby; who authorised these experiments; and what compensation will be paid to the children or their parents in the event of undesirable consequences.

Yes, Sir. This is an investigation conducted under the aegis of the Medical Research Council, in association with my medical advisers, into the value of certain vaccines in preventing whooping cough. Trials in the United States suggest that these vaccines give protection against the disease and thus help to maintain the normal health of infants. This valuable test is being carried out with the voluntary agreement of the parents, and under strictly controlled conditions. There is no reason to fear any ill effects. I am sending my hon. Friend the scientific details he asks for.