London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Walthamstow 1960

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Walthamstow]

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Tuberculosis Vaccine Clinical Trials -
During 1950 an approach was made by the Medical
Research Council for co-operation in carrying out trials
of Anti-Tuberculosis vaccine in order to try to obtain
evidence of the value of B. C. G Vaccine in persons exposed
to the ordinary conditions of life in this country, and to
decide ultimately whether a vaccine can be used for general
The proposals were approved and the Medical Research
Council's team began in Walthamstow in November 19 50. The
trials related to children about to leave Secondary Modern
Schools at the age of 15 years. Circulars explaining the
scheme and inviting volunteers were sent at the beginning
of each term to parents of children due to leave at the
end of the following term. The routine followed was that
during the penultimate school term, the volunteers were
x-rayed and tuberculin tested, and of those who were
negative (i.e. those who had never been infected with
tuberculosis) one half received B. C. G. and the other half
did not (constituting the control group). All these
groups have since been x-rayed and tuberculin tested at
regular intervals and follow-up visits made by the Health
Visitor/School Nurses.
The final visit to Walthamstow was made by the Medical
Research Council's team in July 1960 and of the 609
participants then living in Walthamstow, no less than 415
(69%) either attended for x-ray during the previous visit
to Walthamstow or came when invited this time. A special
effort was made to induce most of the volunteers to
attend this last session and a voluntary car service was
organised amongst the staff. As a result of this the
Medical Research Council informed me that 80 persons who
would otherwise have been lost' were brought to the
Although there will be no further follow-up of these
volunteers, the Medical Research Council still continue
their investigations by means of the register of
tuberculosis notifications and will eventually report on
the trials.

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