"the work on [polio] prevention was long delayed by... misleading experimental models of the disease in monkeys"
Albert Sabin and his work on the polio vaccine is often cited as being an instance where animal research was misleading.
He has been frequently misquoted.
"the work on [polio] prevention was long delayed by an erroneous conception of the nature of the human disease based on misleading experimental models of the disease in monkeys."
The quotation has been used to illustrate the lack of belief in animal studies by a prominent member of the scientific community. However, it has been taken out of context, and does not accurately describe his view. Americans for Medical Advancement are one such group who have used the quote out of context.
One place the quote features is Aping Science - A Critical Analysis of Research at the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center, Committee on Animal Models in Biomedical Research - 1995. p 21-22:
"In truth, the principle monkey model of polio infection was fundamentally misleading, and, as a result, it misdirected preventive measures and delayed vaccine development. As Albert Sabin, who developed the oral polio vaccine, explained in 1984 [quote]"
After being misquoted extensively by these groups Sabin felt the need to clarify his position. He wrote to Sharon M. Russell, 13 September 1991:
"My own experience of over 60 years in biomedical research amply demonstrated that without the use of animals and of human beings, it would have been impossible to acquire the important knowledge needed to prevent much suffering and premature death not only among humans but also among animals."
He also wrote in the Winston-Salem Journal on 20th March 1992:
"Without the use of animals and human beings, it would have been impossible to acquire the important knowledge needed to prevent much suffering and premature death not only among humans, but also among animals"
His widow Heloisa also believed that this misquote was important enough to be corrected, and Sabin's position clarified, even after his death. She wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal 18th October 1995 titled Animal Research Saves Human Lives in which she said:
"Without animal research, polio would still be claiming thousands of lives each year. There could have been no oral polio vaccine without the use of innumerable animals, a very large number of animals, Albert told a reporter shortly before his death in 1993. Animals are still needed to test every new batch of vaccine that is produced for today's children."
Last edited: 27 August 2014 06:01