When the US Government Fast-Tracked a Flu Vaccine in an Election Year

Following the collapse and death of Private David Lewis during a basic training exercise at Fort Dix, New Jersey on February 4, 1976, an investigation into the untimely death of the 19-year-old identified a long-dormant killer, but notorious as the cause.

Blood tests at the Center for Disease Control revealed that Lewis had contracted a type of swine flu that was believed at the time to be genetically close to the flu of 1918, mislabeled the ‘Spanish flu’, which claimed his life. to over 650,000 Americans and as many as 50 million worldwide. Eleven other soldiers from Fort Dix have tested positive for swine flu, but have recovered, while hundreds more at the base have tested positive for antibodies against swine flu. the New York Times reported on the front page that “the virus that caused the largest global flu epidemic in modern history – the 1918-19 pandemic – may have returned.”


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