Staff Correspondent : The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Bangladesh yesterday signed agreements for $940 million in loans to purchase safe and effective vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Fatima Yasmin, Secretary, Economic Relations Division (ERD), and Manmohan Parkash, Country Director, ADB, signed the loan agreements on behalf of Bangladesh and ADB respectively at a simple ceremony at the ERD in the capital’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area, said an ADB press release.
“Safe and effective mass vaccination is critical for protecting lives and livelihoods, and ensuring quick socio-economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said ADB Country Director Manmohan Parkash.
“This is our single largest support for vaccine procurement till now, and ADB is committed to help the government of Bangladesh in procuring quality and affordable vaccines early,” he said. Parkash also said vaccines can reduce virus transmission and infection, and curtail mortality, contributing to saving lives and alleviating pressures on the health system.
“In addition to vaccine procurement, we are also pleased to help improve the vaccine registration, delivery, distribution, monitoring, coordination, and management systems. The assistance follows our reoriented program priorities in supporting a quick socio-economic recovery in Bangladesh,” Parkash added.
The package, which comprises a regular loan and a concessional loan of $470 million each, is 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). 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.
The vaccines will be secured through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) program, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), or bilateral arrangements with vaccine manufacturers or distributors.
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.
ADB is helping the government strengthen its vaccine delivery system and fight against COVID-19 through ongoing technical assistance projects worth around 7 million.
In addition, 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, the ADB also came up with $100 million loan in April 2020 to support procurement of equipment and supplies and upgrading of health and testing facilities, a $50 million loan for microenterprise development for creating jobs, 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 program.
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