Vaccine trials in mother and baby homes

A chara, – The final report of the mother and baby home commission of inquiry identifies seven vaccine trials that were conducted without compliance to the regulatory and ethical standards of the time. The attempts of the commission to discover the details of these are very welcome. However, the commission’s statement that, “There is no evidence of injury to the children involved as a result of the vaccines” may not be defensible. For example, 1964 saw the trial of the Wellcovax live measles vaccine at the Sean Ross mother and baby home in Roscrea. This vaccine (albeit later batches) would be withdrawn from use in the UK in 1969 due to an unacceptable adverse reactivity. Likewise, there are well-documented cases of atypical disease following inactivated measles vaccine use, dating from the mid 1960s. The salient point is that candidate vaccines, similar to those used unethically in Irish institutions, are well known to the scientific community as having unacceptable safety profiles. The lack of evidence of injury might not withstand examination that is more thorough. – Is mise,


Professor of Immunology

and Cell Biology,


Maynooth University,


Co Kildare.