Bill Gates says polio came tantalizingly close to being eradicated in the spring, before new outbreaks were seeded in Africa and a man was paralyzed in New York. Now the billionaire’s philanthropic foundation is pledging $1.2 billion to complete the mission.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced its largest financial commitment yet to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in Berlin on Sunday. The money will help plug a shortfall in funding which, along with floods in Pakistan, the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic, have frustrated a 35-year effort to rid the world of the crippling disease.
“About six months ago was the closest we’ve ever been,” the Microsoft Corp. co-founder said in an interview Thursday. For more than a decade, wiping out polio has been the top priority of the foundation he co-chairs with ex-wife Melinda French Gates. The Seattle-based nonprofit, with an endowment of about $70 billion, has donated almost $5 billion directly to the cause.