The World Bank announced today that it has reached $2 billion in approved financing for the purchase and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines for 17 developing countries. This financing is part of the $12 billion envelope over 24 months for developing countries to acquire and deploy vaccines and strengthen their vaccination systems. For poorer countries financing is on grant or highly concessional terms. The Bank expects to support 50 countries with $4 billion financing for COVID-19 vaccines by mid-year.
The $2 billion funding is supporting COVID-19 vaccination in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eswatini, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Honduras, Lebanon, Mongolia, Nepal, Philippines, Rwanda, Tajikistan, and Tunisia.
“Access to vaccines is key to altering the course of the pandemic and helping countries move toward a resilient recovery,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass. “Our programs are helping developing countries respond to the health emergency and have financing available for vaccines. As the world attempts to carry out the largest vaccination effort in history, we have stressed the need for countries with excess vaccine supplies to release them as soon as possible, and for financing commitments to COVAX to be encashed.”
The Bank’s vaccine finance package is designed to be flexible. It can be used by countries to procure doses through COVAX or other sources. It can also finance other key deployment and health system strengthening activities, such as medical supplies, personal protective equipment, vaccine cold-chains, training health workers, data- and information systems and communications and outreach campaigns to key stakeholders which are key to ensure vaccination acceptance. The Bank has aligned its eligibility criteria of COVID 19 vaccines with the revised eligibility criteria of COVAX and other Multilateral partners.
Additionally, IFC, the Bank’s private sector development arm, has a $4 billion health platform to increase the supply and local production of personal protective equipment in developing countries and unlock medical supply bottlenecks in emerging markets, particularly in medical equipment and vaccines.
The Bank is working with governments and partners (UNICEF, the Global Fund, WHO, and GAVI) to assess the readiness of over 140 developing countries to deploy vaccines. Initial findings show that while 85% of countries have developed national vaccination plans, only 30% have plans to train the number of vaccinators needed and 27% have put public engagement strategies in place to address vaccine hesitancy.
“To get a vaccine into someone’s arm, there is a whole system of interdependent actions that needs to function properly,” said Axel van Trotsenburg, World Bank Managing Director of Operations. “We are working together with the international community and partners to accelerate the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccines are a key element in how we return to school, to work, and to growth.”
Since the beginning of the crisis, the World Bank Group approved $108.6 billion to help countries fight the health, economic and social consequences of the pandemic. The Bank is assisting over 100 countries with COVID-19 health emergency projects reaching 70% of the world population.
World Bank Group Response to COVID-19
The World Bank, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries respond to the health, social and economic impacts of COVID-19. This includes US$12 billion to help low- and middle-income countries purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments, and strengthen vaccination systems. The financing builds on the broader World Bank Group COVID-19 response, which is helping more than 100 countries strengthen health systems, support the poorest households, and create supportive conditions to maintain livelihoods and jobs for those hit hardest.