The World Bank has announced it is providing over $4 billion for the purchase and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines for 51 developing countries, half of which are in Africa. More than half of the financing comes from the International Development Association (IDA), the Bank’s fund for the world’s poorest countries, and is on grant or highly concessional terms.
The financing is part of the Bank’s commitment to help low and middle-income countries acquire and distribute vaccines and strengthen their health systems. The World Bank reiterated its call to governments, pharmaceutical companies and organizations involved in vaccine procurement and delivery to help increase transparency and build greater public information regarding vaccine contracts, options and agreements; vaccine financing and delivery agreements; and doses delivered and future delivery plans.
Axel van Trotsenburg, World Bank, Managing Director of Operations, said the World Bank is helping developing countries in every region of the world with vaccine purchase and rollout. “Significant challenges still remain regarding vaccine deployment and hesitancy. We are taking action on all fronts to tackle these challenges, working in solidarity with international and regional partners to expedite doses to as many people as possible and to enhance disease surveillance, preparedness and response.”
It asked those countries anticipating excess vaccine supplies in the coming months to release their surplus doses and options as soon as possible, in a transparent manner, to developing countries with adequate distribution plans in place.
The World Bank Group, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, has approved more than $150 billion to fight the health, economic and social impacts of the pandemic. Since April 2020, the Bank has scaled up its financing by over 50%, helping more than 100 countries meet emergency health needs, strengthen pandemic preparedness, while also supporting countries as they protect the poor and jobs, and jump starting a climate-friendly recovery.
Trotsenburg shared that the Bank’s vaccine finance package is designed to be flexible. “It can be used by countries to acquire doses through COVAX, the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) or other sources. It also finances vaccine deployment and health system strengthening, such as vaccine cold-chains, training health workers, data and information systems, and communications and outreach campaigns to keep stakeholders which are crucial to ensure vaccination acceptance.”
The Bank has aligned its eligibility criteria for COVID-19 vaccines with the revised eligibility criteria of COVAX and other multilateral partners. It is also convening a task force with the IMF, WHO, WTO and other partners to track, coordinate and advance delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries.