How Did Penicillin Help the Allies Win Wwii?

Published: 2021-08-10 13:00:07
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Category: Help, Infection

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Plan of the Investigation The scope of the investigation concerned the magnitude of penicillin and how it helped the allies win World War II (WWII). The researcher scrutinized the invention and process in which penicillin came to be, the different types of penicillin we have and use today, how it was used to help us more than any other drug in history at one point, and how it came to save thousands of lives in WWII.
The researcher’s method was to use multiple primary resources such as articles written by scholars, medical professionals, and historical investigators. The evidence that was found was evaluated and observed for origin, value, and purpose of penicillin and its use in WWII. B. Summary of Evidence In 1928, Sir Alexander Fleming discovered the first natural mold of Penicillin(Tames 5). Even though his “creation” was mostly on accident, Fleming had been itching to discover a new “wonder drug” since he first became interested in being a scientist(5).
Though the knowledge of disease causing bacteria was somewhat understood at the time, medical researchers had yet to find a chemical able to rid the body of the potent bacteria while not harming the body at the same time. Fleming’s first form of Penicillin was just what was needed to kick off the ultimate breakthrough of medicine. Even then, it wasn’t until another decade after this discovery that people really started needing and using Penicillin to save lives(History of Penicillin).

Although Fleming is credited with this important discovery, it took the start of WWII to pursue medical scientists to strengthen the effect the drug had on people. It’s all thanks to a total of 39 different groups of scientists that hundreds of thousands of fighting men’s lives were saved(World War II and Peoria). Penicillin was considered to be the war’s official wonder drug because of the unbelievable effects it had on infections and deadly diseases. The use of this drug is what made WWII different from any previous war(World War II and Peoria).
Before Penicillin was introduced to the allies of the war, soldiers rapidly died from infections such as Staphylococcal(staff), streptococcal(strep), and pneumococcal(pneumonia) (World War II and Peoria). Since death was the ultimate outcome of these infectious diseases, the number of available soldiers to fight dropped immensely and expeditiously. Due to the shortage of men, sergeants called for men to be recruited no matter their experience; as long as they were 18 years old(Inside WWII).
That then led to more deaths of young cadets because of the lack of knowledge of what to do on the battle field. At that point of time, the allies came to the conclusion that what they needed was a wonder drug ready to use when needed. That’s when Howard Florey and Ernst Chain were forced in with their team of scientists to use Fleming’s Penicillin mold and improve it to where it cured a grown man of a life threatening infection or disease; and make a quantity of hundreds of thousands(World War II and Peoria). After a total of 39 separate drug laboratories in the U. S. ad given their all to synthesize inorganic Penicillin, in 1941, they created a version 20 times more potent than what they started out with in 1939(22). By the autumn of 1943 the war doctors were using the drug on only American and Allied military patients with life-threatening infections. Since a single infection usually called for two million units of Penicillin(single ampoules held 100,000 units), rationing who got what treatment was crucial(World War II and Peoria). The scientists shortly discovered that, while the new version of Penicillin was of very good quality, their new focus needed to be directed on quantity of the drug.
By 1945, the team of scientists brilliantly came up with an amazingly effective technique that supplied the allies with 7,952 billion units of the strongest possible version of penicillin at the time(World War II and Peoria). Though the injections were painful(the needles had to be large enough to allow the medicine to flow through) and had to be given every four hours, soldiers agreed it was worth being able to live and continue fighting to the victory of WWII(23). By the end of it all, the magnificent wonder drug saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of warriors and even more citizens in the U. S. and has continued to fulfill its duty all the way up to today’s time(World War II and Peoria). C. Evaluation of Sources “World War II and Peoria” was the title of the article that helped the researcher the most to come to a conclusion on how Penicillin helped the allies win WWII. The article’s purpose was to further inform people about the studies and development of penicillin during WWII. The article talked about the illnesses and wounds the soldiers fighting in WWII came in contact with and how Penicillin helped them fight and survive through it all.
This particular unit differed from the rest because it did not have its focal point on how Penicillin came to be, but rather its purpose and usage in WWII. However, it did have some limitations of information on specific numbers and names of soldiers that were affected by the wonder drug. The point of view that the article used was from a college professor who had dabbled in history as well as medicine. The professor’s name was Jennifer Rosenburg and she had posted this information around 2000. The second most helpful article’s title was “Inside WWII . The purpose of the article being written was to tell a more medical side of the war as opposed to the blood and guts. Although, it still lingered on with the facts and details of the war itself too much, which limited it with important details it should have withheld about the medical side of the war. But, because of the focusing on one little part at a time problem, the researcher ended up to find it very valuable. It stated facts that were focused on the medicine during the war instead of the medicine in general. The origin of this information was found by Dr. Steven Lister.
He was a doctor during the war, so this gave him a personal experience and the researcher found great value in this type of first hand information. D. Analysis During the period of penicillin gaining importance, World War II was going on. This specific war was fought from 1939 to 1945 by the Axis: Germany, Italy, and Japan; and the allies: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Greece, India, Latvia Lithuania, Malta, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States, USSR, Yugoslavia, and many others(The Axis and the Allies).
The war was fought by more than fifty countries in the world. The main causes of the war for the U. S. and Britain were The Great Depression and the Treaty of Versailles(Wars and Battles 1939-1945). Around 1943, the Allies really started to need help because they were losing so many soldiers due to infections caused mostly by severe battle wounds which ultimately led to the being outnumbered and overtaken by the Axis. That is where Penicillin came in.
Scientists spent over $2,000,000 trying to perfect and learn more about the drug(World War II and Peoria). They eventually found out that what this drug did, once successfully inserted in the body, was it located the source of the infection and fought only the harmful bacteria( Tames 15). As opposed to the other drugs, at the time, which destroyed not only dangerous bacteria, but the vital bacteria used for fighting infections naturally found in the body(16).
The drug, therefore, saved over hundreds of thousands of men(World War II and Peoria). A few months after the Allies received the drug, the Axis groups started to surrender, which officially ended the war in 1945 with the Allies‘ being the victorious group(Wars and Battles 1939-1945). Under the circumstances that the allies started winning after penicillin came into the picture, that was considered to be one of the main, but least recognized, expositions for the victory of the allies.
Of all the evidence the researcher has came up with to support this claim, the three main pieces of evidence are as follows: only two years after penicillin was thoroughly introduced to the war, the allies won; so many lives were saved--on and off the battlefield--how could it not have such a huge impact; and they must have known it was going to be a huge help, otherwise they would not have invested so much money in the whole process of innovating and testing the drug(World War II and Peoria).
The first point was the victory of the allies shortly after penicillin came to use in the war. When they fought without the drug, the allies were losing by a drastic amount considering the vast number of men that died every day from infections on their battle wounds and had suffered without the care that penicillin provided(23). The soldiers suffered for a total of about three and a half years before they actually got penicillin shipped in that had an affect on people(World War II and Peoria).
However, when they did get the wonder drug in, they spent about six months learning the different side effects, insertion ways, and preparations needed before they gave the soldiers all they needed to keep them alive and fighting(World War II and Peoria). The second point, was that there was such a large number of people saved by the drug, that it had to have made some kind of a difference in the way World War II ended. In less than a year, penicillin saved 187 lives just of people in America(21). In the war, penicillin took the death toll, caused by wound infections, from over 12 percent down to less than 1 percent on average(23).
That would mean the allies side of the war would have had a 12 percent advantage over the axis in the battle at this time due to the drug keeping the soldiers dying from wound related infections. The last point stated was with all the time, money, and dedication with bettering this drug, penicillin obviously had a huge impact on World War II The U. S. spent over $2,000,000 trying to perfect the drug to make it effective enough to cure a whole army of men versus enough for one or two individual people.
The money not only paid for the equipment needed, but for the 39 different groups of scientists hired to innovate and test the drug to reach the desired goal(History of Penicillin).
When Penicillin started out, it was but a simple form of mold. Then, When Fleming discovered it destroyed bacteria in the human body without harming the human in any way. He then had over 30 different teams of scientists work at improving this mysterious new drug to make it potent enough to help a man overcome pneumonia.
After years and years of experiments and millions of dollars spent, they finally got what they had been working for. They sent as much as they could to the troops fighting WWII at the time. The doctors at the war stations gave it to the men in critical condition and the drug got them back on their feet and fighting in about a week.
Works Cited

"The Axis and the Allies. " The Countries Who Fought in World War Two. Mandy Barrow, 2010. Web. 12 Nov. 2011. .
"The Drug Safety. " The Drug Safety. The Drug Society, 2011. Web. 26 Sept. 2011. .
"How Penicillin Came to Be. Alexander Fleming in WWII. J. Miller. Web. 28 Sept. 2011. .
"Inside WWII. " History Learning Site. Chris Trueman, 2000. Web. 28 Sept. 2011. .
Prine, Patricia R. "Moma's Notes. " Personal interview. 2 Oct. 2011.
Tames, Richard. Penicillin: a Breakthrough in Medicine. Chicago: Heniemann Library, 2001. Print. "Wars and Battles, 1939-1945. "
United States American History. Web. 12 Nov. 2011. . "World War II and Peoria. "
20th Century History. Jennifer Rosenburg, 2001. Web. 26 Sept. 2011. . "WWII and Medicine. " Medicine in World War II. 2001. Web. 27 Sept. 2011. .

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