Character Story| How much was Penicillin worth during the war?

2022/08/17

The name British microbiologist Alexander Fleming must be very unfamiliar to everyone. It doesn't matter. Let's first understand a major discovery that has an unusual relationship with this scientist - penicillin. Penicillin is the world's first antibiotic and the most widely used antibiotic. It is also what we usually call "penicillin" and "anti-inflammatory drug".


Character Story| How much was Penicillin worth during the war?
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It is no exaggeration to say that all of you who can afford penicillin are once rich people. Just once.

Because during World War II, the value of penicillin was comparable to gold, which was a magic pill that could save lives. In the United States in 1943, the price of a dose of penicillin was as high as $200, or the price of 200 grams of gold.

 


During the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, penicillin was also circulated in the Chinese market, but it was used by the upper classes. At that time, the price of the drug sold for a tael of gold and a penicillin. One or two pieces of gold are about 50 grams. According to the current price of 390 yuan per gram of gold, it is about 19,500 yuan per piece.

 

Penicillin in the early years was not powder, but oily, commonly known as oleicillin. During the turbulent period before and after liberation, oil cylin was very precious and could be circulated as a hard currency, which could preserve its value like gold.



At that time, some people in China also obtained penicillin illegally and sold it on the black market. Oil Xilin was very expensive in the second half of the 1940s, one gold bar per bottle. Many wealthy people keep cylin in their homes, and the business of smuggling and reselling cylin has also emerged as the times require. If you owned a ton of penicillin during the Republic of China, you would be the richest man in the people! Your wealth is second only to the four major families of the Republic of China, namely the Jiang Zhongzheng family, the Song Ziwen family, the Kong Xiangxi family and the Chen Lifu family.

 

By 1945, when penicillin began to be popularized and applied to the public, the price of a dose of penicillin was also about 6 US dollars, which was equivalent to 14 oceans in China. In the early 1950s, a bottle of American penicillin smuggled into mainland China cost ten dollars. In Shanghai, the most developed economy in the 1940s and 1950s, the salary of ordinary working class was 5-10 yuan, and the monthly salary of General Cai E, the governor of Yunnan, was only 65 yuan. In other words, these ordinary workers can't make enough money to buy a penicillin after working hard for a month.


 

A small sneeze triggered a major event in the history of medicine.


Almost half of the great inventions known in the world are due to "accidents". Newton was accidentally hit by an apple that fell from the tree and discovered the conclusion of universal gravitation; Watt saw the jumping of the lid of the pot when the water was boiling, and invented the steam engine; French chemist Courtois's cat accidentally bumped into a bottle of water. The bottle of concentrated sulfuric acid was poured into the "mother liquor", and the new element iodine was accidentally discovered.


And Fleming discovered penicillin by sneezing!



One day in 1928, Fleming, who had a cold, still insisted on continuing to work in the laboratory. An inadvertent sneeze in a laboratory petri dish surprised Fleming a few days later!


 

A few days later , Fleming remembered that he had left a petri dish on the lab table that should have been replaced. Before processing, he observed it with a microscope, but let him observe that a kind of mold that had never been seen appeared in the petri dish, and other bacteria around it lived around it and did not dare to approach it.

 

On February 13, 1928, Fleming confirmed his discovery, what he had observed was a new type of mold that killed bacteria and named it penicillin.

 

purified and reused after its discovery . Fleming cultivated Penicillium strains from generation to generation , and in 1939 provided the strains to Australian pathologists who were preparing to systematically study penicillin. Florey and biochemist Chain. The two worked side by side to re-study the properties and chemical structure of penicillin, and after a long period of hard work, they finally solved the problems of separation, purification and concentration of penicillin. Soon, high-purity penicillin was finally born. Since then, the world has opened the era of antibiotics, and people have been able to get rid of the threat of most bacteria.


 

Artists delayed by science, "Bacteria" cross-border art circle.


Alexander Fleming was the first to paint with bacteria. At first, Fleming's painting tool was watercolor. Later, as a scientist, he began to use another new medium - microorganisms. He would fill a petri dish with agar, then use a ring-shaped metal tool to extract bacteria of different pigments and spread them on the plate, allowing these different bacteria to ferment and mature at the same time.

 

The red gelatinous substance in the petri dish is one of the solid medium, and it is a "big meal" for bacteria. At this time, a small petri dish becomes a small microbial paradise. With their strong survival and proliferation ability, after about half an hour of growth, the next generation is generated by division. Just wait, and soon you can "harvest" a plate full of bacteria or fungi.



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