Gates wants to eradicate polio with the help of UAntwerpen. In the Western world, polio is no longer existent since a couple of decades. However, it still makes victims in developing countries, although a vaccine is available. Vaccination on a global scale is not easy. Gates has taken the mission on board to finally eradicate the disease. He is investing three million euros in a research project of UAntwerpen.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation contacted the Center for the Evaluation of Vaccination (CEV), affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of the University of Antwerp. The Antwerp researchers have considerable expertise in the field of vaccine studies and vaccination programs, including the polio vaccination program.
"The vaccine against polio is widely available in developing countries thanks to the work of UNICEF and the World Health Organization," says prof. Pierre Van Damme of the CEV.
But there are rare risks associated with the current oral vaccine. In exceptional cases, vaccination may even lead to the development of the disease itself.
"As part of the final sprint for polio eradication, continuing the current oral polio vaccine in developing countries is not the solution. A new generation of polio vaccines is needed to wipe out this infectious disease. "
It is well known that Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft and one of the richest men in the world, funds many charities. Van Damme: "Gates wants to witness the eradication of polio himself, and is willing to invest firmly. An Indonesian pharmaceutical company has a new candidate oral vaccine in the pipeline, which presumably does not have the insidious side effects. That oral vaccine could reach the market in 2018, but must be tested first."
The Antwerp research center launched at the request of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation two vaccine trials in adults with the existing oral polio vaccine - this will form the basis for comparison with future studies with the new generation of the oral polio vaccine.
Van Damme: "There is some urgency, because the oral polio vaccine in its present form may no longer be used as of April 2016 by the WHO. An intermediate form will be used in anticipation of the results of the vaccine studies."