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Philippines secures US$900 million in loans for Covid-19 vaccines
Government seeks to inoculate about 70% of 110 million population to achieve herd immunity
12 Mar 2021 | The Asset

The Philippines has secured US$900 million in loans for the purchase of safe and effective vaccines against Covid-19. The funding support includes US$500 million from the World Bank and US$400 million from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The country is expected to get an additional US$300 million loan from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) for the purpose.

The Philippines has one of the highest numbers of Covid-19 infections in Southeast Asia, with more than 600,000 confirmed cases as of March 11. It plans to inoculate about 70% of its 110 million population to achieve herd immunity. The country started its vaccination campaign on March 1 after receiving 600,000 doses of Sinovac donated by Beijing.

According to the World Bank, the US$500 million facility will support the Philippine government’s programme to purchase and distribute Covid-19 vaccines, strengthen the country’s health systems, and overcome the impact of the pandemic especially on the poor and the most vulnerable.

The financing will help the country to continue implementing public health measures until a majority of the population has been vaccinated or is deemed safe based on global evidence. The use of web platforms to gather citizen feedback on the vaccination programme as well as beneficiary feedback surveys to boost engagement with citizens will help ensure effective implementation.  

"Procuring and administering vaccines provides the country an added layer of defense against Covid-19 on top of public health measures or interventions like social distancing, wearing of masks, and washing hands," says Ndiamé Diop, World Bank country director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. "Inclusive deployment of vaccines in line with the World Health Organization Fair Allocation Framework is critical for preventing grave illness and deaths from Covid-19, opening the economy in earnest, ensuring a resilient recovery, and restoring jobs and incomes."

The ADB and AIIB loans, on the other hand, will together fund the procurement of up to 110 million doses of the vaccines for as many as 50 million Filipinos. The country is in talks with vaccine suppliers to buy about 170 million doses.

“ADB’s support will boost 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 poor and marginalized populations, as well as those at increased risk of severe illness,” says ADB president Masatsugu Asakawa.

“Covid-19 vaccines are critical to accelerating the recovery of the Philippine economy, rebuilding livelihoods, and restoring quality jobs. With this financing, ADB seeks to help the country save lives and allow Filipinos to return to normal life as soon as possible.”

The loan approval makes the Philippines the first recipient of financing support under the ADB’s Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility (APVAX), a US$9 billion initiative to help developing members procure and deliver effective and safe Covid-19 vaccines.

Any vaccine supply contract that the ADB supports will follow the bank's procurement rules and guidelines, including its anti-corruption and integrity policy. Under the loan agreement, ADB will pay vaccine suppliers directly. The financing will also follow global best practices on safeguard measures, including waste management of medical supplies.