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The Cure in the Code by Peter Huber

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15

THE FALLING COST OF HEALTH CARE

IN HIS APRIL 2005 obituary, the New York Times described Maurice Hilleman as the man who “probably saved more lives than any other scientist in the 20th century.” What kind of genius does it take to get that on your tombstone? Hilleman himself, it seems, “credited much of his success to his boyhood work with chickens.” He went on to use fertilized chicken eggs to grow large quantities of bacteria and viruses that were then weakened or killed to produce vaccines. The technique was known before Hilleman arrived, but isolating and then safely breeding a pathogen requires the touch of a delicate artist. “Maurice was that artist,” a leading expert in infectious diseases recalled; “no one had the green thumb of mass ...

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