Friday, July 17, 2015

Antibiotic found in the mud at a Biological Weapons plant saved more lives than the anthrax and botulism to be made there ever killed

Academics are always claiming that America simply couldn't have afforded to build a bunch of cheap bottle penicillin plants in surplus milk plants, not in the early years of the war anyway.

And whenever I read this, I always think about the billions (in 1940 dollars too !) wasted on the excess number of huge munitions plant built in those same years.

But one example - the munitions facility built at Vigo, Terre Haute.

It was quickly built, produced a few bombs and then quickly shut down.

Until Churchill asked FDR to rush the manufacture of tons of anthrax needed to fill a half million British bombs (and that's just a starting order, he said).

The whole biological warfare program was run by the owner of Merck ---- and this George W had even more political connections than his Bush counterpart.

So the war machine quickly found much more money to make deadly bacteria than it ever found to stop deadly bacteria from killing people in the first place.

And the place they choose to do it all in was the Vigo plant.

The war ended before any anthrax germ bombs were filled (or dropped).

Merck ,the company and the owner, totally missed the boat on natural penicillin and fell on hard times, so they never bought the Vigo plant when it became surplus.

But the surprise winner in the wartime race to first make billions of units of penicillin - and hence Merck's most hated commercial opponent, Pfizer - did.

Ironically from some dirty mud at the Vigo plant, Pfizer found its own very first antibiotic, Terramycin.

For many years now, it and a related analogue have saved lives or reduced the period of suffering from a very very wide spectrum of microbial attacks.

I think there is a moral in there somewhere ....

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