In 1935, a cohort of Native Americans began to enroll in an experiment
designed to address a topic about which everybody was unsure, if not entirely
ignorant: the efficacy of BCG vaccination against tuberculosis (TB). In the
early 1930s, 2 decades before the advent of combination chemotherapy, 65 of
every 10 000 Alaska Natives and Eskimos died of TB each year.1 For those unfortunate enough to develop active disease
following infection, the principal remedies were fresh air and hope. With
a case-fatality rate of about 50%, the prognosis for patients with TB was
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