The Pandemic lies go back a long way. The “Spanish Flu” did not begin in Spain, nor was it influenza. It was a bacterial infection started by an American Army experimental vaccine.
We all know that the “Spanish Flu” started at the end of World War I in 1918. One of the things people don’t know is that censorship in the warring nations prevented it from being reported properly. In Spain, however, being neutral, there was no need for censorship. On 22 May 1918 the epidemic made the headlines there, and the Spanish King, Alfonso XIII, became ill a week later. Hence the connection to Spain, where it was known instead, with at least a little more accuracy, as the “French Flu.” (See here.)
At this time virology was not a recognised science. The first human virus to be isolated was Yellow Fever, some fourteen years later in 1932. The word “Influenza” originated from the Latin “influentia,” meaning “influence of the stars,” more than one hundred years earlier. In World War I it simply did not have the meaning we ascribe to it today. In using the term “Spanish Flu,” people were referring simply to an unspecified epidemic respiratory illness thought to have started in Spain.
On March 4, almost three months before King Alfonso became ill, the first soldier known to have “influenza” was reported at Camp Funston in the USA. “First reported”, of course, does not mean the same as the first case. It means the first that was reported. Only two weeks later, thousands of men there were sick. The name “Camp Funston” conjures up a temporary, tented military base. It was nothing of the sort. It was part of the countless acres of Fort Riley, and was itself a huge area set up to train men for the First War. It was one of sixteen such new camps, and the largest of them all. As the first clear outbreak of the “Spanish Flu” was there, Fort Riley/Camp Funston is naturally where we should look for origins of the pandemic.
A certain U. S. Army Doctor, Frederick L. Gates, working with The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, (now Rockefeller University) had tested a new vaccine on thousands of men at Fort Riley. His report can be found here on the Rockefeller University Press website, published on 1st October 1918, and also here, dated as “submitted for publication on 20th July” that year. (The date is significant.) The full report is well worth reading. Below we look only at some salient points. Three significant matters are noted first.
1 One of the mysteries of “Spanish Flu” was that it attacked healthy young men. Flu preferentially attacks the very young and very old. This is an extremely strong indication that the “Spanish Flu” was not flu at at all, but some other pneumonia-causing infection.
2 The research was aimed at finding a vaccine for meningitis. However, meningitis is a set of symptoms which may be caused by any one of several different infectious agents. A main cause of serious meningitis is pneumococcus bacteria, which also causes pneumonia. Today we readily distinguish pneumococcal meningitis from meningococcal meningitis. The Doctor’s report only refers to “meningococcus”, although he is well aware of different types and writes at some length about them.
3 The report is couched in very polite and positive terms. It also sounds genuinely scientific to anyone who is not thinking critically as they read it. Given that the Doctor’s practical work was complete by the end of February (see below), it is a little strange that his report was not submitted for publication until 20th July, for it is not especially long. However, if Dr F. L. Gates began writing it in March, that would have coincided precisely with the beginning of the epidemic. He must have spent a long time wondering how he could discuss the contagion while demonstrating that it was not connected to his vaccine. In the end, his report omits any mention at all of the epidemic, and he never uses the word “pneumococcus.” Either of those would have immediately suggested a connection between his February vaccinations and the catastrophic pneumonia that followed in March.
Points from the Report
1 The first paragraph tells us that there was a “preliminary series of vaccinations on a relatively small number of volunteers . . . . Following this, the vaccine was offered . . . .to all who wished to take it.” Given the military’s belief in vaccines and the stringency of military discipline, it is reasonable to assume that this actually meant everybody.
2 There was some rudimentary testing of dosages on about 300 men, leading to a decision to further test three injections at weekly intervals on nearly 5,000. Each dose was double the previous dose. Only about 4,000 of the original 5,000 received the third dose. We are not told what happened to the other thousand. In a supposedly accurate and complete scientific report this is astonishing, reprehensible, and deeply suspicious.
3 There are many reports of reactions to the vaccine on the mornings following injection. However, any reaction days, weeks or months later seem to be assumed to be irrelevant.
4 The report states that “In some regiments the vaccinations had been completed before February 5.” It is not stated how long it took to carry out all the vaccinations. Since there was a one week interval between each injection, we might reasonably assume that they were all complete by the end of February.
So we know that a truly exceptional illness, not like a flu, erupted in Fort Riley by March, following the vaccinations in the two months before. And also that from there men were shipped to France, from where the Spanish believe they received the plague later. If we look for some unusual cause in Fort Riley, it seems to be staring us in the face: the vaccine caused the Pandemic. Is there an alternative explanation for the origin?
There is just one. In a 2,500 word article here, J M Barry reaches the conclusion that the disease jumped from animals to men in Haskell County, about 300 miles from Fort Riley. He takes almost half of his article to review possible origins outside of the USA, and concludes, correctly, that it started in the US, and specifically in Kansas, where both Camp Funston and Haskell County are located.
We need to digress here into the Barry article and the references he gives. He quotes eight references, the first of which, perhaps unsurprisingly, is his own book, “The Great Influenza: the Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History”, published in 2004. He also makes reference in the text to Jeffery K Taubenberger’s work on proving the viral connection of “Spanish Flu”. But he only cites a personal letter, with no further details, for this obviously vital piece of research.
I searched the web, but could not find it that research. What I did find was a paper by Taubenberger and others about the 1918 Pandemic. It’s rather long, and very speculative (here.) For example, it opens by presenting six key questions regarding that pandemic. The six corresponding answers use the words “unknown . . . not documented . . . unknown . . . unknown . . . unknown . . . insufficient evidence.” I found the paper both verbose and hypothetical, but one hard fact stood out: “The major bacteria identified in the pandemic were the organisms now called Streptococcus pneumoniae.” This statement that was followed by “Accumulating evidence suggests that nearly all deaths in 1918 were associated with bacterial pneumonia.” Streptococcus pneumoniae, or pneumococcal meningitis, is, of course, what Dr F L Gates was trying to vaccinate against.
Now we can return to Barry’s key revelation, which concerns a Dr. Loring Miner. Dr Miner reported a very unusual illness in Haskell County in February, though his report only refers to deaths there on 30th March. Barry swiftly concludes that the illness jumped from animals to men in Haskell County, and was then carried to Camp Funston by recruits to the Army. Yet even he writes a paragraph about two-way traffic between Camp Funston and Haskell County that starts with “All Army personnel from the county reported to Funston for training. Friends and family visited them at Funston. Soldiers came home on leave, then returned to Funston.” It is not therefore clear which direction the infection originally travelled in. Was it Haskell to Funston? Or Funston to Haskell? The dates alone make both possibilities equally likely. How does Barry dismiss the possibility of an origin caused by the Funston vaccine? Simply, he never mentions the experimental vaccinations at all. From a man who has written a book on the 1918 Pandemic, that is a very significant omission.