Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder, will donate 50% of his wealth to charities

With a fortune estimated over $13.5 billion, Paul Allen, who founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975, is in 37th position among the world’s richest people according to Forbes magazine.

In a statement issued by his foundation, Paul Allen announced also that he donated 3.9 million dollars to a group of philanthropic organizations in the northwest United States.

“I’ve planned for many years now that the majority of my estate will be left to philanthropy to continue the work of the foundation and to fund non-profit scientific research like the ground-breaking work being done at the Allen Institute for Brain Science,” Allen said in a statement.

Allen has appeared on the Philanthropy 50, the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s annual list of the nation’s 50 largest donors, eight times and ranked No. 11 last year, donating $85 million.

Paul Allen, aged 57, was diagnosed last year with a serious form of cancer – non-Hodgkin’s malignant lymphoma.

His announcement comes shortly after Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, the richest American businessmen have launched a public appeal to wealthy Americans to donate at least half of the fortunes to charities.

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The Decade of Vaccines starts with $10 billions

The investment plan is for the next 10 years and it will focus on vaccines for AIDS, tuberculosis, rota virus and pneumonia.

„We must make this the decade of vaccines”, said Bill Gates. “Vaccines are a miracle,” added Melinda Gates. “With just a few doses, they can prevent deadly diseases for a lifetime. We’ve made vaccines our priority at the Gates Foundation because we’ve seen firsthand their incredible impact on children lives.”

Since stepping down as chief executive officer of Microsoft in mid-2008, Bill Gates has devoted most of his time to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a philanthropic organization he set up with his wife Melinda. He remains part-time chairman of the software giant.

The foundation directs most of its attention to global health, education and agriculture in the third world and has committed more than $21 billion since it was established in 1994.

The $10 billion commitment is the largest pledge ever made by a charitable foundation to a single cause, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, a newspaper covering nonprofit organizations.

The couple told delegates at Davos that they used a model developed by a consortium at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the United States to project the potential impact of vaccines on childhood deaths over the next decade.

“By significantly scaling up the delivery of life-saving vaccines in developing countries to 90 percent coverage — including new vaccines to prevent severe diarrhea and pneumonia — the model suggests that we could prevent the deaths of some 7.6 million children under 5 from 2010-2019.”

The foundation also estimates that an additional 1.1 million children could be saved with the rapid introduction of a malaria vaccine beginning in 2014, bringing the total number of potential lives saved to 8.7 million.

The couple said their pledge was inspired by the remarkable progress made on vaccines in recent years.

Interview taken at World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland by CNN