Polio could be eradicated in the next two to four years, the billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates predicted yesterday as he appealed to world leaders attending a global vaccine summit in London to commit extra funding to protect the world’s poorest children.
If achieved, one of the most dreaded diseases of the 20th century, which crippled thousands of children in Britain and worldwide, could become the second to be consigned to the history books, after smallpox was eradicated in 1979.
Mr Gates was answering questions from the public in a phone-in organised by Save the Children in advance of today’s summit meeting of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) which is seeking to raise an extra £2.3 billion to save four million lives over the next five years.
The extra cash is needed to fund two new vaccines which provide protection against pneumonia and diarrhoeal disease and have the potential to save one million lives a year.
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