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domingo, 23 de outubro de 2011

U.S. Army Project CD22 - OPERATION WHITECOAT - The Operaton Whitecoat Story: Biological Warfare & Human Subjects

The Operaton Whitecoat Story: Biological Warfare & Human Subjects

  From 1954 through 1973, approximately 2,300 special service men were trained as medics at Fort Sam Houston's 91 Bravo School. These young Americans were conscientious objectors because of their religions beliefs. However, their strong patriotic convictions made service to their country a high priority in their lives. As a result, this group volunteered as personal participants and placed their lives and well-being in an even scarier "harm's way" in America's little-known Cold War Battle to protect our fighting troops from the very real threat of germ warfare. The project became known as Operation Whitecoat.

These solders, mostly of the Seventh-day Adventist faith, participated in experiments (most of which took place at Fort Detrick, Maryland) where they were exposed to various levels of infectious agents and diseases. By using these individuals as "human guinea pigs" military medical personnel were able to demonstrate the feasibility of preparing a defense against biological warfare agents and known risk factors that existed not just in the battlefield, but also in the workplace. These experiments resulted in the development of vaccines to protect American troops at risk of exposure to biological agents and infectious diseases on the battlefields of Korea, Vietnam, Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

  Many of those experiments expanded the world's knowledge of infectious diseases, and society as a whole benefited greatly from the medical research of Operation Whitecoat in poison control and antibiotic treatments. A vaccine against the virus known as Rift Valley Fever was tested for safety and immunogenicity on the Whitecoat Volunteers. This was the only vaccine for the virus to be tested on Humans.

There were many medical accomplishments of Operation Whitecoat: First Real Tests of Human Vulnerability and Protection; Effective systems for biological hazard containment were developed and tested with participation of Whitecoat Volunteers; In 1968 and 1969, many Whitecoat Volunteers participated in the development of Rift Valley Fever Virus vaccine, NDBR 103 RVFV, which was used routinely to immunize at-risk workers in research laboratories at USAMRIID, CDC and Plum Island Animal Disease Laboratory; In 1977, a major outbreak of Rift Valley Fever in Egypt involved up to 200,000 humans and virtually all the sheep resulting in 2,000 human deaths and enormous loss of sheep. Egypt and Israel found that the United State's RVF vaccine was the only one that had been tested for safety in humans under an IND from the FDA (this was the same vaccine that had been tested on Operation Whitecoat Volunteers in 1968). A little known benefit that Operation Whitecoat Volunteers provided was to enable peace between Egypt and Israel to occur because obtaining RVF Vaccine was an important bargaining chip for both countries. Emissaries from Egypt and Israel requested this vaccine when Sadat and Begin met at Camp David with President Jimmy Carter (see photo above).

Still standing today at Fort Detrick, Maryland, is a 40-foot high, gas tight metal globe known as the "8 Ball". Military medical personnel, in conducting biological warfare tests (including the test on Whitecoat participants), used this historical biological warfare structure as the "home and dispensing mechanism" for the biological agents and exposure to these agents took place when soldiers breathed from it's ports. This 1 million-liter test sphere remains as a symbol of tests on humans of biological weapons. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as a "visual reminder of the past, a time when certain military labs were guarded by submachine gun towers and scientist had pistols handy on their workbenches." (Norm Covert, Ft. Detrick Historical).

Learn more about our American/Military history and Operation Whitecoat by visiting:


FORT DETRICK located in Frederick, MD. Tours can be arranged through the military base or through the Visitor's Center for the City of Frederick, MD.

WHITECOAT MEMORIAL located on the grounds of the Seventh-day Adventist Church at 6437 Jefferson Pike, Frederick, MD.


KENNETH D. JONES first Whitecoat Volunteer exposed at the "8 Ball" to Q-Fever on January 25, 1955. Ken is founder and first president of "The Whitecoat Foundation" and is a Whitecoat historian. He can be reached at or by calling             (951)741-5228      .


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