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World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF Receive Funding for New Polio Vaccine

Monovalent Oral Polio Vaccine destined for Egypt, bringing faster child immunity against predominant polio strain

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Sona Bari
Phone: 41.22.791.1476

Claire Hajaj
Phone: 1.212.326.7566

GENEVA and NEW YORK -- The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF announced today that they have received grants totalling US$ 10 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop and introduce a powerful new polio vaccine—a critical part of the strategy to end poliovirus transmission worldwide by the end of 2005.

The new vaccine, monovalent oral polio vaccine type-1 (mOPV1), will be more efficient at boosting immunity against poliovirus strain "type 1" than today’s trivalent vaccine, which works against all three polio strains. Epidemiologists believe the new vaccine could help to bring a swift end to polio through mass immunization campaigns across areas where virus types 2 and 3 have already been eliminated.

The Gates Foundation funds will help WHO and UNICEF together with a qualified vaccine manufacturer to develop, licence and introduce mOPV1 by May 2005. The vaccine will be used initially in Egypt, which has successfully eliminated poliovirus types 2 and 3, and could soon be made available to other areas where only type-1 poliovirus remains.

To view the full press release, visit the WHO Web site.

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