WASHINGTON (AP) – The World Bank (WB) has approved USD12 billion in financing to help developing countries buy and distribute coronavirus vaccines, tests, and treatments, aiming to support the vaccination of up to one billion people.
The USD12 billion “envelope” is part of a wider World Bank Group package of up to USD160 billion to help developing countries fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the bank said in a statement late on Tuesday.
The WB said its COVID-19 emergency response programmes are already reaching 111 countries.
Citizens in developing countries also need access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, it said.
“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,” the bank’s President, David Malpass, said in the statement.
“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,” he said. The International Finance Corporation, the private sector lending arm of the WB is investing in vaccine manufacturers through a USD4 billion Global Health Platform, the World Bank said.
Researchers are working on developing more than 170 potential COVID-19 vaccines.
Development and deployment of such preventive vaccines is crucial to helping stem outbreaks of the coronavirus that has killed more than one million people and sickened more than 38 million, while devastating economies and leaving many millions jobless.
The world’s richest countries have locked up most of the world’s potential vaccine supply through 2021, raising worries that poor and vulnerable communities will not be able to get the shots.
Meanwhile, an ambitious international project to deliver coronavirus vaccines to the world’s poorest people, called Covax, is facing potential shortages of money, cargo planes, refrigeration and vaccines themselves.
The WB said it will draw on expertise and experience from its involvement in many large-scale immunisation programmes and other public health efforts.