The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved $12 billion in financing for developing countries to fund the purchase and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, tests and treatments for their one billion people.
Approval came during the second day of the International Monetary fund (IMF) and World Bank Group (WBG) annual meetings held virtually from Washington through 18 October.
The financing is part of an overall WBG package of up to $160 billion through June 2021 to help developing countries counter the Covid-19 pandemic.
It also helps signal to the research and pharmaceutical industry that citizens in developing countries need access to safe and effective vaccines, providing financing and technical support that enable these countries to prepare for deploying vaccines at scale, in coordination with international partners, according to the WBG.
In implementing the programme, the World Bank will support multilateral efforts currently led by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and COVAX, a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production and equitable access to Covid-19 tests, treatments and vaccines.
“We are extending and expanding our fast-track approach to address the Covid emergency so that developing countries have fair and equal access to vaccines. Access to safe and effective vaccines and strengthened delivery systems is key to alter the course of the pandemic and help countries experiencing catastrophic economic and fiscal impacts move toward a resilient recovery,” WBG President David Malpass said.
In addition to purchasing Covid-19 vaccines, the WBG financing will also support countries to access COVID-19 tests and treatments, and expand immunisation capacity to help health systems deploy vaccines effectively.
This includes supply chain and logistics management for vaccine storage and handling, trained vaccinators, and large-scale communication and outreach campaigns to reach communities and households, according to the WBG.
The new financing builds on the WBG’s health programme, which focuses on strengthening health systems and health service delivery, adding that the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the WBG’s private sector arm, is also investing in vaccine manufacturers through its $4 billion Global Health Platform.
The WBG will be deploying up to $160 billion in financial support over 15 months to help more than 100 countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery.