The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $38 million to Japan-based Takeda Pharmaceuticals to develop a low-cost polio vaccine, Reuters reports. The grant is part of a global plan to end the disease, which experts say could see its last case within this year if countries switch from using oral polio vaccine to inactivated polio vaccine, or IVP, which will ensure that the disease will not reappear.
Takeda said in a statement that it would use the money to develop, license, and supply 50 million doses annually of a form of IVP to more than 70 developing countries. The shot will be made available at a low price by the GAVI vaccines alliance, which is funded by the Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization, and other insitutions that fund vaccine programs in poor countries.
Experts fear that there could be a shortage of the vaccine once every country in the world looks to use it. However, if countries have access to the vaccine, the disease could be completely wiped out by the end of the decade, health experts say.
Chris Elias, the Gates Foundation's head of global development, said the gift would “ensure that the world has enough vaccine to get the job done and maintain a polio-free world.”