The graph is from the Ratner report (1), the transcript of a 1960 panel sponsored by the Illinois Medical Society, on which sat three PhD statisticians and an MD, met to discuss the problems with the ongoing polio vaccination campaign.
The polio vaccine was licensed in the U.S. in 1954. From ‘50 thru ‘55, the striped and clear portions of the bars represent about 85% of the reported cases, or 30,000 per year, on average. Those cases were automatically eliminated by two radical changes the CDC made to the diagnostic parameters and labeling protocol of the disease as soon as the vaccine was licensed – 30,000 cases a year we were subsequently told were eliminated by the vaccine.
That success, held aloft as a banner of the industry, is an illusion. The CDC has an awesome power of control over public perception, sculpting it from behind closed doors in Atlanta, with the point of a pen.
Over the last sixty years in the U.S., more than a million cases of what would have been diagnosed as polio pre-vaccine – same symptoms – were given different labels.
The change didn’t stop there, however. As addressed in the Ratner report, they also changed the definition of a polio epidemic, greatly reducing the likelihood that any subsequent outbreaks would be so labeled – as though the severity, or noteworthiness, of paralytic polio had halved, overnight. It’s summed up thusly in the report:
Presently , a community is considered to have an epidemic when it has 35 cases of polio per year per 100,000 population. Prior to the introduction of the Salk vaccine the National Foundation defined an epidemic as 20 or more cases of polio per year per 100,000 population. On this basis there were many epidemics throughout the United States yearly. The present higher rate has resulted in not a real, but a semantic elimination of epidemics.
And that’s precisely what happened to polio: not a real, but a semantic elimination of the disease.
In the decades following the release of the vaccine, additional changes were made to the diagnostic parameters of the disease, changes involving analysis of cerebrospinal fluid and stool and additional testing (2) , each succeeding change making it less and less likely that a diagnosis of paralytic polio would result.
And, critically, before the vaccine was licensed polio diagnoses were made clinically and accepted from around the nation, duly reported to the American public annually as polio, no lab analysis required, while after it was licensed only the CDC was – and is – allowed to issue confirmations of paralytic polio – all suspected cases had to be sent to them for analysis and testing. (3)
Again, perception is key. Because of the persistent pre-vaccine news coverage of the disease, including film footage of paralytic polio victims in leg braces, or immobilized, strapped to huge, inclined boards, or housed in foreboding iron lungs, the public pictured the thousands of kids reported with polio each year as suffering terribly, when in truth the pictures involved only a fraction of a percent of the diagnosed cases.
Moreover, while for many the perception was that the iron lung was a permanent fixture, in the majority of cases the machine was needed only temporarily – generally about one to two weeks. (4)
The arbitrariness of the change in the diagnostic parameter of paralytic polio, from one day of paralysis to two months, resulting specifically in the elimination of all the cases represented by the striped portions of the bars in the graph, is remarkable. Indeed, the very idea that the length of time you’re ill determines the disease is remarkable!, and flies in the face of the science of virology.
Were you to apply the same logic to measles diagnostics, for instance, and add the requirement of a rash that lasts ten days, the disease would be eradicated, since the measles rash lasts from three to five days. To the point, had they made the requirement three months of paralysis instead of two, several additional thousands of cases of paralytic polio would simply and immediately have fallen off the diagnostic plate, hastening the illusion of complete eradication.
All of the non-paralytic cases, represented by the clear portions of the bars in the graph, and which pre-vaccine were the majority of cases reported simply as polio each year, were discarded completely!, reclassified. A search through public health department disease statistics reveals that in the U.S. those cases were basically handled as they were in Canada:
It may be noted that the Dominion Council of Health at its 74th meeting in October 1958 recommended that for the purposes of national reporting and statistics the term non-paralytic poliomyelitis be replaced by ‘meningitis, viral or aseptic’ with the specific viruses shown where known. (5) …