If you’ve been following Bill Gates news lately, you know he’s on a mission to eradicate polio.
The Gates foundation has given $1.3 billion to the cause and has pledged a total of $10 billion for research and to help provide vaccines to children around the world.
Last Friday, CNN’s Sanjay Gupta sat down with Gates in Switzerland at the World Economic Forum to talk about his agenda, vaccine fears, and the resulting dip in vaccination rates.
Sanjay Gupta said, “What do you make of all that? Dr. [Andrew] Wakefield wrote a paper about this [in The Lancet in 1998] saying he thought there was a connection. And there were lower vaccination rates over a period of time as a result in Britain than the United States. What are your thoughts?”
“Well, Dr. Wakefield has been shown to have used absolutely fraudulent data. He had a financial interest in some lawsuits, he created a fake paper, the journal allowed it to run. All the other studies were done, showed no connection whatsoever again and again and again. So it’s an absolute lie that has killed thousands of kids.”
He said specifically that opting out of the pertussis (whooping cough) or measles vaccines has proven deadly for some families.
Of course, his main focus is driving the effort to make vaccinations available to children in the developing world. For that he is a hero to some, while others think his mission to eradicate polio is misguided.
As The New York Times reported last week, since the campaign to stomp out the disease began in 1985, the drop on caseloads is 99 percent. Gates is putting billions of dollars into making that one percent go away — but some think the money could be better spent on other health agendas. For example, the Times cites that the 14-year drive to wipe out smallpox only cost $500 million. Some public health experts say that maybe we have to be okay with “controlling” not “eradicating” polio.
Do you think Gates is putting his money in the right place? And how do you feel about his comments on vaccine fears?