Letter: Shot in the arm for immunotherapy

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'TUBERCULOSIS,' writes Sharon Kingman, 'had almost been eradicated by the widespread use of antibiotics and vaccines after the Second World War.' That, like most paeans to the role of drugs in the eradication of infectious illnesses, is simply incorrect.

The best-known study, that of Thomas McKeown, is quite explicit: 'a large part of the decline (in mortality from tuberculosis) occurred before the introduction of effective treatment in 1947.'

As with cholera, typhoid, diphtheria, whooping cough, measles and other infectious diseases, improvements in sanitation, housing and nutrition, coupled with control over disease vectors had virtually eliminated TB before vaccination or antibiotics were introduced. That leaves me wondering why medical science does not use common sense and look for preventive measures or alternative treatments that will not cause mutations.

Dr Denis MacEoin

Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne

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