• Louize Small

Did Vaccines Cause the 'Spanish Flu' Epidemic?

And did Aspirin overdose make it worse?



We’ve all heard of the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. Most of us accept the common narrative and have not thought to question it before, but did you know that records show that the disease was neither Spanish in origin nor were scientists able to identify the strain of influenza responsible. Furthermore, a vaccination program may have been a key contributor to the masses of deaths around the world.


At the time, any illness of unknown origin was classified as influenza and the symptoms did mimic those of flu, however, looking back into the archives we find documents that tell a different story, namely one of bacterial pneumonia that was spread by soldiers in service during the latter stages of World War I.


The first noted case was at Fort Riley Military Base, Kansas, on the 11th March 1918. A cook at the training camp had been taken ill with flu-like symptoms and because there was a known outbreak of the disease in Kansas, this man’s condition was attributed, perhaps incorrectly, to that. What we didn’t hear though was that earlier that year, in January, a vaccine trial had started on the soldiers at the base.





In late 1917 there had been an outbreak of bacterial meningitis at the base and a vaccine seemed the best protocol for dealing with the epidemic. The scientists got to work and a study sponsored by the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research and lead by Frederick L. Gates began in January of 1918. Initially a small group of soldiers were inoculated with 3 doses each of anti-meningococcal serum and their reactions were noted. Some developed mild symptoms of meningitis but were mostly well after receiving their injections. Feeling the experiment was a success, Gates rolled the program out to a larger pool of the military servicemen and that is when the men started to drop like flies…


Gates repeated the same three-dose protocol. A group of 4,792 men received their first dose but only 4,257 of those men went on to get their second dose. There were only 3,702 men who completed the full series of three injections. There is no mention of what happened to those 555 men, we can only speculate on whether they became ill or died or went forth into the battlefields before completion of the study, taking their pestilence with them, shedding and aerosolising their bacteria as they went?


As the world was at war, conditions in many countries were poor. Soldiers travelling in cramped spaces on trains and ships and in the trenches and camps would be susceptible to disease anyway, never mind the fact that they had been recently injected with various bacteria fused with a serum concocted in horses. The men moved far and wide in unsanitary environments, spreading out through Europe. Soon, as more countries found their citizens falling ill, demand for the anti-meningococcal serum increased. England, Belgium, France and Italy took plentiful supplies of the inoculations and vaccinated the people.


This leads us to question whether symptoms of a vaccine-induced illness were mistaken for the flu? Was this a bacterial plague rather than a viral one? Influenza usually kills the vulnerable – the weak and infirm, but the Spanish Flu took healthy people down in their droves. The symptoms were similar to flu but doctors could have easily been mistaken. Fever, lethargy, joint pain and shortness of breath could be presenting symptoms for many things. Another disease that takes healthy people down and exhibits similar symptoms is bacterial pneumonia. Autopsies conducted at the time and later reviewed showed that an overwhelming majority of patients had died with evidence of bacterial pneumonia. None of the 9,000 autopsies reviewed by the National Institute of Health in 2008 were negative for bacterial lung cultures.



We must also ask whether Aspirin was a factor, too?


In 1917, the trademark held by Bayer expired; this created a flurry of competition in the pharmaceutical industry. Doctors prescribed Aspirin to their patients in large quantities during the outbreak as it was heavily marketed to them and recommended by the medical authorities. The amounts they used would be declared toxic today, fatal even. In 1918, patients were prescribed a dose of 30 grams of Aspirin, whereas today you are advised not to take more than 4 grams per day. If you look up salicylate poisoning you will find the symptoms vary with the extent of the poisoning but are very similar to those of both the flu and meningitis.


You may want to read Frederick L. Gates’ paper, ‘A Report on Anti-Meningitis Vaccination and Observations on Agglutinins in the Blood of Chronic Meningococcus Carriers’ to find out more about the study.


The Spanish Flu began towards the end of the First World War, eight months before Armistice Day. The pandemic fizzled out in June 1919, seven months after the end of the war.


(c) Louize Small, September 2020

This article appears in the September edition of The Light (Issue 1).

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