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$1.2B pledged to eradicate polio; Small biz bracing for cautious holidays

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The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says it will commit $1.2 billion to the effort to end polio worldwide.

The money will be used to help implement the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s strategy through 2026. The initiative is trying to end the polio virus in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the last two endemic countries, the foundation said Sunday.

The money also will be used to stop outbreaks of new variants of the virus. The announcement was made Sunday at the World Health Summit in Berlin.

The foundation said it has contributed nearly $5 billion to the polio eradication initiative. The initiative is trying to integrate polio campaigns into broader health services, while it scales up use of the novel oral polio vaccine type 2.

“The last steps to eradication are by far the toughest. But our foundation remains dedicated to a polio-free future, and we’re optimistic that we will see it soon,” said foundation CEO Mark Suzman.

Small biz bracing for cautious holidays

Small businesses are stocking the shelves early this holiday season and waiting to see how many gifts inflation-weary shoppers feel like giving.

Holiday shopping was relatively strong during the past two years as shoppers flocked online to spend, aided by pandemic stimulus dollars. Sales in November and December have been averaging roughly 20% of annual retail sales, according to National Retail Federation.

This year, small businesses are bracing for a more muted season. AlixPartners, the global consulting firm, forecasts that holiday sales will rise between 4% to 7%, far below last year’s growth of 16%.

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