Bill Gates is right to call vaccines “magic” and to say “they’re very inexpensive – they can protect you for your entire life, so diseases like smallpox that used to kill millions are completely gone because of the vaccine. It is the greatest thing that ever happened in human health.”
David Cameron agrees. Yesterday he pledged £814 million on top of the UK’s existing commitment to GAVI (the Global Alliance on Vaccines and Immunisation) of £680 million between 2011 and 2015.
The prevention of diarrhoea and pneumonia in children in the poorest countries was highlighted yesterday. Rotavirus, which causes gastroenteritis, infects nearly all children world-wide before the age of three. In poorer countries, it is estimated to kill more than 500,000 every year. The virus is contagious and infections cannot be prevented by sanitation alone, yet vaccines that work are available.