During the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918, it was widely accepted that the disease was spreading from person to person through respiratory droplets. Masks, quarantine, social distancing, and other measures were used to control the spread.
But experiments done at the time revealed how little was known about the true nature of the disease. In fact, every attempt to prove human to human transmission of the 1918 Flu was unsuccessful. The shocking experiments conducted by the United States Public Health Service from 1918 to 1919 are described below.
Experiments on Navy Volunteers
From 1918-1919, the USPHS conducted experiments to better understand the infectious nature of the Spanish Flu. They made rather determined efforts to infect healthy volunteers with the disease. As you will see below, their efforts were a complete failure:
- “We collected the material and mucous secretions of the mouth and nose and throat and bronchi from [sick patients] and transferred this to our volunteers.” These secretions were placed in the nostrils, throat, and eyes of the volunteers. Of the 100 volunteers, NONE became sick.
- The experiment was repeated, this time using new volunteers and more stringent procedures. But the results were the same: “None of them took sick in any way.”
- In another experiment, healthy volunteers were inoculated with blood from sick patients. None became sick.
- In yet another experiment, mucous was collected from sick patients, filtered, and then injected directly into the volunteers. None became sick.
Finally, the researchers attempted to infect volunteers in a manner that was more consistent with how transmission would occur in the real world. New volunteers and sick patients were assembled:
- The participants shook hands and talked face to face as close as possible for five minutes.
- The sick patients then coughed in the face of the healthy volunteers several times while the healthy volunteers inhaled.
- Each volunteer repeated the procedure with ten sick patients.
- None became sick.
Despite these experiments, it is still firmly believed that the 1918 Spanish Flu was caused by a contagious virus. Ironically, this denial of reality is called “following the science.”