The Government of India and the Government of Bengal are both eager to introduce Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (B.C.G.) Vaccination on a large scale in order to prevent the high incidence of tuberculosis which has been spreading rapidly throughout the country. A batch of experts have been sent by the World Health Organisation to popularise the B.C.G. Vaccination and to demonstrate to the authorities concerned the process of manufacture of the vaccine and they have taught local workers, the technique of its administration.
Since many years research workers have been trying to invent a serum or vaccine for the prevention of tuberculosis. Professor Calmette and his collaborator Guerin have given us this B.C.G. Vaccine, by working on the principles invented by the great German scientist Koch. Koch in 1894 made an experiment by injecting tubercle bacilli under the skin of a healthy guinea pig. Within two weeks he noticed swelling of the glands near the site of the injection as also the wound remained open and continued to discharge pus until the death of the animal.
But when he repeated the same experiment on a tuberculosis guinea pig, the wound soon healed up and the nearest glands were also not inflamed. Before Koch the French Doctor and Scientist Marfan showed in 1886 that when a person was recovering from an infectious disease he develops in his system a resistance to further infection which cannot produce the disease again. This observation of Marfan has in fact the origin of the principle of immunization. Calmette and Guerin in 1907 used Kochs experiment for preparing a vaccine against tuberculosis.
Kochs tuberculin even in very small dose proved dangerous. So Calmette and Guerin tried to invent a process by which the bacilli would lose their virulence and would be incapable of producing tuberculosis even in the most susceptible animal like the guinea pig. By their labour extending over a period of 13 years, a “live” vaccine was prepared from a special strain of tubercle bacilli which was so attenuated that it had lost its capacity to produce the disease and it is claimed that the inoculation of these bacilli in healthy animals did no harm to them.
The Government wants to use extensively the B.C.G. Vaccine for the purpose of creating immunity against tuberculosis amongst its people. There is one very important condition for its use; that the persons who are to be injected with this vaccine must be conclusively proved to have no infection beforehand. “The Norwegian Association for the prevention of Tuberculosis advocates the B.C.G. Vaccine for healthy persons who are exposed to infection and young tuberculin negative members of tuberculous families.
The method of carrying out Vaccination is of the utmost importance. Not the slightest mistake must be made. There are two important rules (1) The child must be given the vaccine three times in the first ten days after birth (2) For the following six to eight weeks it must be kept away from all possible sources of infection.” (Dr. M. Sekulich).
It is clear that the conditions for the use of the vaccine are not so easy. Even the healthy subjects after the inoculation, are probably made more sensitive to fresh infection, as immunization and sensitization are two simultaneous processes, and as such it cannot be strongly denied that the live vaccine (B.C.G.), although claimed to be much less potent, can become active under circumstances contravening the strict adherence to the conditions laid down.
In fact the injunction of keeping the inoculated person away from possible source of infection for some length of time, is a precaution against the sensitized condition of the subject. But it must be admitted that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to observe such a condition, as any gust of wind can carry the infection, so widely existing in the atmosphere and over which no body has got any control whatsoever.
Although the use of the vaccine is extensively prevalent in the continent of Europe, it is not so much favoured in England. In this connection I would like to quote the opinion of Dr. F. W. Price from the “Text Book of Practice of Medicine”, in respect of the use of the B.C.G. vaccine, “It is too early to assess the results, but there is one great objection to the method, that is, the possibility that the organism itself may be capable of regaining virulence in the human body”.
I would also like to quote Dr. G.S. Erwin of England from his Book, “A Guide for the tuberculous patient”; “Inoccupation of the dead germ of tuberculosis or its products (tuberculin) has not met with any success, but better results are claimed for the second method. By various culture methods strains of the tubercle bacillus relatively harmless to man can be produced in the laboratory.
The best known of these is Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (B.C.G.) which has been extensively used in the continent particularly in France, Germany and Scandinavia where number of infant contacts are treated annually. Authorities in this country (England) have considered this method too dangerous for use, the objections being that there is no guarantee that in the same patients the bacillus once introduced into the body, will not gain in virulence and cause serious tuberculosis.”.
The Government of Bengal has recently appointed a provincial Tuberculosis Board with physicians of great eminence, both official and non-official under the Chairmanship of the premier, Dr. B.C. Roy for formulating a comprehensive scheme for checking tuberculosis menace, both from the preventive and curative view points. There is no doubt that the Board will examine with utmost care, the desirability of advocating at once the extensive use of the B.C.G. vaccine. The premier Dr. Roy made a statement in the provincial Assembly that in the industrial areas of Calcutta about 88 per cent. of the people were suffering from tubercular infection; out of which about 7 per cent were active cases.
When such a heavy percentage of people have got primary infection, the scope of the use of the B.C.G. vaccine as a prophylaxis, would certainly be very limited; and its wide and indiscriminate use is bound to prove dangerous. Uptil now we have not been able to know the opinion of the Board but we learn that Dr. Roy stated earlier, that he was not hopeful about any good result from the use of the B.C.G. vaccine; but inspite of that we find that the Government is making arrangements for the inoculation with the said vaccine; and Drs B. C. Roy, Jivraj J. Mehta, K.S. Roy and others have recently issued a statement advocating the use of the B.C.G. vaccine.
The authorities in England have not favoured the use of the B.C.G. vaccine as a prophylaxis and so also in America. So before the experiment be allowed to be carried out in a wide scale in India we must be thoroughly satisfied against any possible bad effect, especially in this country where the people due to poverty and consequent malnutrition have got much less natural resistance to infection. It is quite possible that he would be made more helpless during the sensitized stage, just after the inoculation of the vaccine.
On the other hand, however, a sound and effective prophylaxis can be created by the use of Homoeopathic remedies of the preparations of tuberculosis virus, such as, Tuberculinum, Tuberculinum-Bovinum, Bacillinum etc., in potencies not below 200. One dose of the saturated globules with any of the above nosodes may be taken every alternate day for a week or more or less number of days, and the use of which is to be stopped as soon as the person shows symptoms of feverishness or coryza or cough, or swelling of glands; which is sure to pass off within 3 or 5 days of the discontinuation of the drug.
Homoeopathic medicines in potency although prepared from disease products do not contain any bacillus or actual virus but they possess only the energy or the properties of the bacillus or the virus concerned, to produce symptoms, which such bacillus or virus could have produced if they had been introduced in the system in live form. When the potentised remedy is taken in repeated doses, a proving of the drug starts in the system and symptoms of the medicine are produced and by such process the defensive mechanism of the system is aroused which causes the defensive cells to multiply, or in other words stimulates the formation of protective antibodies, and bring in a condition of resistance against any fresh infection of the disease, likely to be produced by the same bacilli or virus.
This is in fact the principle by which immunity is created by the use of prophylactic medicines. The creation of immunity by the use of the potentised preparations of tuberculin products under Homoeopathic principles, is absolutely simple, safe and sure; and unthinkably cheap.
The efficacy of creating immunity in smallpox by the use of potentised Homoeopathic medicines such as, Variolinum, Malandrinum etc. are well established and thousands of people are being immunised by the use of these remedies during epidemics every year throughout the world, effectively and without any bad result whatsoever. Under the same principle other nosodes. Diphtherinum. Typhoidinum, Beuboninum, have been proved to be equally effective prophylaxis against Diphtheria, Typhoid and Plague.
Dr. J.T. Kent has stated that Tuberculinum often gives immunity if taken before the tuberculosis begins in those who have inherited it. It immunes the constitution. I have myself used Tuberculinum and Tuberculinum-Bovinum in 200th potency as prophylaxis amongst the members of families in which there were open cases of tuberculosis who ultimately died of the disease, and no untoward results had taken place; neither any other member of the family had shown any sign of tuberculosis although several years have passed.
In the use of the nosode as a prophylaxis there is no risk, either if the person is absolutely healthy or had a primary infection. If he is healthy it will act as prophylactic and if he is already infected and the nosode is the simillimum it will act as curative as also prophylactic.
It is fallacious to think, however, that every one requires prophylactic treatment. The disease can only establish itself in persons who are constitutionally susceptible. Susceptibility and reaction are basic principles and are very closely related to the problems of immunization. When a person is susceptible to a particular disease, the similar remedy, that is a proper constitutional one, which may also be a remedy other than from a tuberculin product, or the similar disease, as in the case of a primary infection, satisfies susceptibility and establishes immunity. We often find susceptibility in the children of tuberculous parents.
The same thing is also noticed amongst persons, whose near relatives have died of tuberculosis. Dr. Kent has suggested that, if Tuberculinum-Bovinum be given in 10m., 50m., and C.M. potencies, two doses of each potency at long intervals, all children and young people who have inherited tuberculosis may be immunised from their inheritance and their resiliency will be restored.
But we must note that the homoeopathic principle of cure has never been varied and as such in respect of the cases, where there has already been an infection and the particular nosode or virus is the simillimum, it will act as curative and in other cases where it is not the simillimum, it will neither act prophylactically nor remedially. There is no such thing as specific in the whole domain of medical science.