Bill and Melinda Gates announced today in Davos, Switzerland, that their foundation would donate $10 billion over the next 10 years to help research, develop and deliver vaccines to the world's poorest countries. The donation could save as many as 8 million children by the end of the decade, experts said. The new funds are in addition to the $4.5 billion that the Gates have donated to vaccine research and delivery in the past.
The donation comes only a day after the publication of research reports showing the success of a new vaccine against rotavirus-induced diarrhea in developing countries. Introduction of that vaccine alone is expected to save 2 million lives over the next decade. Add in a new vaccine against pneumonia and increasing distribution of vaccines already in use and the total lives saved could reach 7.6 million by 2020. Rapid introduction of a new malaria vaccine expected in 2014 could add 1.1 million children to the total.
"We must make this the decade of vaccines," said Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft and one of the world's richest men. "Vaccines already save and improve millions of lives in developing countries. Innovation will make it possible to save more children than ever before."
-- Thomas H. Maugh II
Bill Gates vaccinates a child against polio in India. Photo credit: Gates Foundation / Prashat Panjiar