World Bank and AfDB Approve $ 900 Million in Loans for Purchase of PH Vaccines and Pandemic Response

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 12) – The Philippines has secured $ 900 million (about 43.67 billion yen) in new funding from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines and measures to respond to the health crisis.

In an emailed statement to the media on Friday, the World Bank said its board of directors approved a loan of $ 500 million (about 24.26 billion yen) to help the government purchase and deploy vaccines.

“Inclusive vaccine deployment in accordance with the World Health Organization’s equitable allocation framework is critical to preventing serious illness and death from COVID-19, seriously opening up the economy, ensuring resilient recovery and restoring jobs and income, ”said Ndiamé Diop, World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

The Washington-based institution said the funding would also support the execution of public health measures “until a majority of the population has been vaccinated or is found to be safe based on global evidence.”

The board approved additional funding for the current COVID-19 emergency response project in the Philippines which it approved in April last year, which aims to help the country meet urgent needs in health care to face the health crisis and better prepare its public health.

In a separate statement, the Asian Development Bank announced that the Philippines is the first to receive financial support under its Asia-Pacific Vaccine Access Facility or APVAX. The regional lender said it approved a loan of $ 400 million (about 19.4 billion yen) to help the country procure vaccines.

“AfDB’s support will strengthen the Philippine government’s urgent efforts to secure and deploy COVID-19 vaccines for all Filipinos, especially those who are vulnerable, such as frontline workers, the elderly and the poor and marginalized, as well as those at increased risk of serious illness, ”AfDB President Masatsugu Asakawa said.

AfDB Vice President for Southeast Asia Operations Ahmed Saeed cited the Philippine government’s “keen sense of initiative and priority” as the reason it chose the country as the primary beneficiary. of APVAX. He explained that Philippine government officials have presented a “solid” COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan and other pandemic response measures.

“One of the conditions of our loan is that the government should have put in place a fair and comprehensive strategy for the allocation of vaccines and for the identification of priority groups. This is something that the Ministry of Health has done in close coordination with World Health Organization guidelines, ”Saeed told CNN. The last word from the Philippines on Friday.

Saeed added that the loan requires COVID-19 vaccines for distribution to have a high regulatory bar, regardless of the country where the vaccinations were made.

AfDB’s $ 400 million loan will finance the Second Health System Enhancement to Address and Limit COVID-19 under the APVAX (HEAL 2) project, which will help the Ministry of Health purchase and deliver vaccines certified by the COVAX global facility and bilateral vaccine suppliers meeting the APVAX eligibility criteria.

A project document posted on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s website last month said AIIB is expected to co-finance the project with a loan of $ 300 million (about 14.5 billion yen).

AIIB and AfDB loans will finance the purchase of up to 110 million COVID-19 vaccines that will cover up to 50 million Filipinos.

Foreign lenders are among the government’s sources of funding for its pandemic response measures, as well as vaccine supply. In January, the country’s outstanding debt exceeded 10.3 trillion yen, a new record.

The Philippines officially began its nationwide vaccination campaign on March 1, one day after the arrival of 600,000 doses of CoronaVac vaccine donated by Chinese company Sinovac.

In addition to being one of the last countries in Southeast Asia to deploy vaccines, the Philippines also has the region’s highest case count after Indonesia. To date, it has more than 607,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The Philippine government hopes to immunize up to 70 million Filipinos, or two-thirds of the population by 2021.

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