What happens when antibiotics stop working?

David Aaronovitch – whose life was saved by antibiotics after a routine operation went catastrophically wrong six years ago – talks to the scientists on a mission to solve the problem of drug-resistant infections. It’s a race against time: the alternative is a future where a graze could be fatal.

This is a story of four generations: our grandparents, ourselves, our children and our children’s children. It is a story of a cycle of death, hope, cure, fear and – quite possibly – death again. And, for me, it begins with a woman in her early thirties called Ida May Walmsley.

Ida Walmsley, a former actress, married to a soldier, had just given birth to her third daughter. It was summertime, and she was sitting out in the garden of a friend’s house, the baby asleep indoors. And something, probably a gnat, bit her. The next day, a relative – a hockey mistress at a nearby girls’ school – wrote in her diary that Ida’s cheek was “very swollen”. A day later and she was “very ill”.…

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