Medicine: Imperfect Weapon

Every seven seconds, doctors estimate, someone somewhere in the world dies of tuberculosis. Because TB is a disease that thrives on poverty, overcrowding, malnutrition and ignorance, its prevention is largely a sociological problem. Doctors, however, have long searched in vain for a medical weapon that would work against TB with the sure efficacy of, say, the smallpox vaccine against smallpox. The best they have found so far is the vaccine called BCG, which was first tried out on calves in 1908 at France's Pasteur Institute.

BCG is far from being the perfect weapon. Some doctors think that it can be downright dangerous;...

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