“So anyway I went down and talked to [Albert Sabin], and he said well, why are you concerned about it? Well, I said ‘I’ll tell you what, I have a feeling in my bones that this [SV40] virus is different, I don’t know why to tell you this, but I just think this virus will have some long term effect.’ And he said what? And I said, ‘cancer.’
I said Albert, you probably think I’m nuts, but I just have that feeling. Well, in the meantime, we had this virus and put it into monkeys and into hamsters. So we had this meeting, and that was sort of the topic of the day, and the jokes that were going around were that ‘gee, we would win the Olympics because the Russians would all be loaded down with tumors.’
… Well, I guess [the information about SV40 made into the newspapers], I don’t remember. We had no press release on it. Obviously, you don’t go out, this is a scientific affair within the scientific community… but, anyway we knew it was in our seed stock from making vaccines. That virus, you see, is one in 10,000 particles, is not inactivated by formaldehyde.
It was good science at the time because that is what you did… you didn’t worry about these wild viruses. So then the next thing you know… three, four weeks after that we found that there were tumors popping up out of these hamsters.”
— Dr. Maurice Hilleman, microbiologist and top vaccine scientist for Merck
(developed over 40 vaccines from 1940s to 2000s, notably measles, mumps, and hepatitis B)