If you are Alexander Fleming you only have to make three big mistakes to win a Nobel prize and eternal acclaim.
Mistake one : insist that penicillin will never be a success unless man first synthesizes it.
(We're still waiting !)
Mistake two : insist that penicillin will never work if taken internally but will only work as a topical antiseptic.
(In fact, penicillin really only works when taken internally, as an antibiotic, to save lives while as an antiseptic it may actually impede healing of minor scrapes and cuts.)
Mistake three : go along with the Churchill government's decision to only make enough wartime penicillin to help frontline Allied forces with wounds moderate enough to be likely to quickly return to battle.
(When America's New Deal-oriented WPB (War Production Board) decided to mass produce wartime natural penicillin, American diplomats were soon using that bounty to save lives (and win hearts and minds) all over the Allied, Neutral and Occupied world.
Soon a Pax Americana (Pax Penicillia ?) was replacing a century-old Pax Britannica.)
By contrast , on October 16th 1940 , Gotham City's Dr Henry Dawson set out to challenge these three tenets of fellow Scot Alexander Fleming, line by line.
In just five weeks, he read an early - vague -report on penicillin, located some spores, grew them, tested them on himself for toxicity and then gave the world's first ever "crude" natural antibiotic shots.
To two young men dying of SBE , a then invariably fatal form of endocarditis.
(A) Dawson was never shy about admitting that his penicillin shots were not 100% synthetical pure or even 100% naturally pure.
In fact he was the first to label his type of penicillin as 'crude' and natural --- and the label stuck.
(B) Crude or not, he had shown that natural penicillin was non toxic - in fact far less toxic than the conventional alternative, the sulfa drugs. So why not use it internally , to save lives ?
(C) Social Medicine (a sort of 1930s version of Obamacare) was in the Fall of 1940 being destroyed by conservatives under the guise of War medicine.
War medicine's eugenic claim (the same claim as Hitler made on the first day of WWII) was that we couldn't afford to waste precious medicine on useless 4Fs when our precious 1A soldiers need all our help.
Top of the list among the 4Fs to be Code Slow-ed to death by war medicine's Death Panels were the SBEs - which is why Dawson so insolently chose the SBEs as the ones he gave history's first penicillin needles to.
To make the sting of his rebuke even more obvious, he gave those historic needles to these '4Fs of the 4Fs' on the very day that America was conducting its very first peacetime draft registration, seeking out all of its 1As.
As is well known, Alexander Fleming's synthetic penicillin laid a big egg .
So it was left to the NYC firm that had most bought into Dawson's vision, Pfizer (then a modestly sized supplier to the soda pop industry) to supply 80% of the penicillin landed on D-Day - in fact to supply most of the world's penicillin during WWII.
And that is how New York rescued the miracle of penicillin from the man who found it - like an unwanted gift - on his desk 16 years earlier...