Intended for healthcare professionals


Fake vaccine campaign in Pakistan could threaten plans to eradicate polio

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 19 July 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d4580
  1. Jeanne Lenzer
  1. 1New York

Public health and medical aid organisations around the globe have condemned a fake vaccination operation reportedly run by the US Central Intelligence Agency as part of a ruse to capture and kill Osama bin Laden.

The charity Médecins Sans Frontières issued a statement on 14 July saying that the operation constituted a “dangerous abuse of medical care, which threatens the trust essential for health agencies and humanitarian aid workers.” The charity, a number of whose doctors have been killed in conflict zones, also said that “using medical cover for military purposes “endangers those who provide legitimate and essential health services.”

The criticisms come after reports that the CIA attempted to obtain DNA samples from the children living in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where the CIA suspected that Osama bin Laden was living. The agency planned to compare the children’s DNA with that of a sister of bin Laden who died in Boston in 2010. …

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