Book Reviews by Heidi Boudro

Vaccine A

Reviewed by Heidi Boudro

Conditions collectively known as Gulf War Illness affect at least 180,000 veterans of the first Gulf War. What common experience could so many troops have shared? Investigative journalist Gary Matsumoto has a straightforward answer in Vaccine A: The Covert Government Experiment That's Killing Our Soldiers--and Why GI's Are Only the First Victim. The culprit: squalene, an additive in the unlicensed anthrax vaccine used by the military during and after the Gulf War. The documented result of injecting squalene: autoimmune disease.

Matsumoto's argument is impressive in its simplicity and documentation. Many Gulf War Illness sufferers can be diagnosed by impartial, knowledgeable M.D.'s as having lupus, multiple sclerosis, and other autoimmune disorders. It is well established in peer-reviewed journals that injecting squalene causes autoimmune disease. Squalene is an immunostimulant; when injected, the body makes antibodies against it. Since squalene is a component of human nerve tissue, the body begins a process of self-attack, leading to full-blown autoimmune disease.

Soldiers received experimental anthrax vaccine that contained squalene. Although the relevant military vaccination records have disappeared, the FDA's examination of specific lots of the unlicensed anthrax vaccine used by the military showed that these lots contained squalene. Antibodies to squalene were found in sick veterans who had been vaccinated with these lots; it was even shown that those negative before their shots became positive afterwards. The level of antibodies was shown to correlate with the degree of illness.

Vaccine A is subtitled The Covert Government Experiment That's Killing Our Soldiers and Why GI's are Only the First Victims. The military has gone to great and disturbing lengths, in what the General Accounting Office called a "pattern of deception," to hide the facts, including the fact that it had used an unlicensed vaccine. Furthermore, the military did not stop using the vaccine after the first Gulf War.

Experimental vaccines made on the principle of the experimental anthrax vaccine may affect the general public as well as the military. Current experimental vaccine research is committed to using squalene. Squalene is used to cause the body to mount a much larger immune response than it otherwise would to these experimental vaccines. At the time of this writing, no licensed U.S. vaccine, including the licensed anthrax vaccine, contains squalene, but experimental vaccines, such as those for HIV or bird flu, do. Also, some vaccines licensed in Europe contain squalene.

Matsumoto attempts some ill-informed debunking of other possible causes of Gulf War Illness. I personally doubt that Gulf War Illness has only one cause. A better introduction to the possibilities is William Thomas's disorganized but wide-ranging Bringing the War Home.

The attempted debunking mars Matsumoto's book, but what he has achieved is an argument based entirely without speculation concerning a clearly defined disease process that is at least part of the Gulf War Illness problem.

Copyright © 2006 by Heidi Boudro