In another six years, polio will be wiped off the planet, Bill Gates said on an interview on the “Colbert Report.”This will be only the second time in human history that we eradicated a disease. (Can you name the first one? Answer at the end of this post.)
Last year, 250 people were struck down by polio. Considering the polio vaccine has been around since the 1950s, you could argue that this was 250 too many.
But that compares to 2010 and 2011 where outbreaks of polio were on the rise. In 2011, for instance, there were over 600 cases worldwide.
Thanks in part to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, there are new ways to distribute the vaccine to children everywhere.
“We are on the verge of doing something we’ve never been able to do before—reaching the vast majority of children in the remotest places in the world,” Gates said earlier this week in a speech in London. “When polio is gone, we can use the same systems, technology, and people to deliver other lifesaving solutions, especially routine vaccinations for diseases like rotavirus and measles.”
Such networks to remote places is already having a huge impact in cutting childhood deaths, Gates said. 12 million kids under five died in 1995 compared to 7 million last year.
Despite this amazing work saving the world, comic Stephen Colbert still razzed Gates about one thing: being less cool than Steve Jobs.
Here’s the full interview:
(Answer: Smallpox. The last case was diagnosed in 1977.)
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