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Vaccinating The World

Monday, 1 Feb 2010 | 4:01 PM ET
Davos, Switzerland
Photo: World Economic Forum
Davos, Switzerland

The headlines at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davoswere dominated by banking regulation and reform, the shape of the recovery and Greece's Euro crisis.

But it wasn't all about government, business and the economy, Bill and Melinda Gates announced that their foundation was committing $10B over the next 10 yearsto help research, develop and deliver vaccines for the world's poorest countries.

The Gates Foundation has declared this year "the decade of vaccines."

Melinda Gates, who is Co-Chair of the foundation as well as Co-Chair of the WEF annual meeting, added that the couple have been "investing in vaccines for over 10 years."

That investment has resulted in saving the lives of three million kids. With that statistic in mind, Melinda expects "another eight million lives can be saved by the new vaccines that are coming out and by delivering the existing vaccines."

Their investment is "a signal of our enthusiasm of what we think can be done."

Bill Gates broke it down for us and explained where the $10B donation will go.

Their priorities:

1. Getting coverage of vaccines to more children

2. Adding vaccines that have already been invented in the rich world and getting that out to the poor countries

3. Inventing new vaccines

And in perhaps a return to his roots, Bill Gates is increasing his online presence.

On January 19th, he made his first tweet and since then, he's added 398,588 followers and counting! Aside from Twitter, he's also re-emerged on Facebook and launched a new Web site called The Gates Notes.

Bill & Melinda Gates
Bill and Melinda Gates talk to CNBC's Maria Bartiromo about their push to make vaccines available around the world.

Gates says that he has been surprised at the reception to his web presence, saying that "so far the number of people signing up or reading has been way beyond what I had expected."

Why now?

Gates said that "the digital world is a very important way to communicate, particularly to share what's going on in Africa."

Liza Tan contributed to this article.

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