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$940m ADB loan to bankroll jab purchase

FE REPORT | June 23, 2021 00:00:00

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide Bangladesh with US$940 million for purchasing safe and effective vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The ADB Board gave the approval to the loan package for Bangladesh, said a press release issued by the Manila-based multilateral lender on Tuesday.

The package, which comprises a regular loan and a concessional loan of $470 million each, is a part of ADB's $9 billion Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility (APVAX) launched in December 2020 to offer rapid and equitable vaccine-related support to ADB's developing member countries (DMCs), it said.

"Vaccination programmes can break the chain of virus transmission, save lives, and mitigate the negative economic impacts of the pandemic," the press statement said, quoting the ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa.

"This project is a continuation of ADB's ongoing support to Bangladesh's COVID-19 pandemic response in order to protect its population from the virus, rebuild the livelihoods of vulnerable groups, and work to return its economy to its impressive growth path," the ADB head said.

The project will fund the purchase of an estimated 44.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to be administered to more than 20 million Bangladeshis by 2024, contributing to the government's National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for COVID-19 Vaccines, according to the press release.

The vaccines will be secured through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) programme, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), or bilateral arrangements with vaccine manufacturers or distributors, it mentioned.

Vaccines eligible for financing must meet at least one of the APVAX eligibility criteria: the vaccine has been selected for procurement through the COVAX mechanism; the vaccine has been prequalified by the World Health Organization (WHO) or WHO emergency use listing; or the vaccine has received regular or emergency licensure or authorization by a Stringent Regulatory Authority, it said.

The ADB is helping the Bangladesh government strengthen its vaccine delivery system through ongoing technical assistance projects worth $1.7 million, it added.

In addition, the ADB has supported Bangladesh's COVID-19 response through a $250 million loan in June 2021 to strengthen social protection and resilience programs, a $500 million loan in May 2020 for expanding social safety nets for vulnerable groups and supporting critical labor-intensive industries and small and medium enterprises to preserve jobs.

Besides, it also provide $100 million as loan in April 2020 to support procurement of equipment and supplies and upgrading of health and testing facilities, an initial emergency grant of $350,000 for the procurement of medical supplies and equipment, and $1.3 million from an ongoing project to provide one-time cash support to trainees of an ongoing skills training programme, said the press release.

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