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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

ADB approves US$400 million loan for the Philippines' vaccine purchases

Philippines, first country to benefit from Asian Development Bank’s APVAX

MANILA – The Philippines received the needed financing support under the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility (APVAX) with the approval of a US$400 million loan that will help the country buy safe and effective vaccines against the coronavirus disease.

In a statement, the ABD said the Philippines is the first recipient of the said facility.

“ADB’s support will boost the Philippine government’s urgent efforts to secure and deploy COVID-19 vaccines for Filipinos, especially those vulnerable, such as frontline workers, the elderly, and poor and marginalized populations, as well as those at increased risk of severe illness,” said ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa.

He added the vaccines are critical to accelerating the recovery of the Philippine economy, rebuilding livelihoods, and restoring quality jobs. Mr. Asakawa said with this financing, ADB seeks to help the country save lives and allow Filipinos to return to normal life as soon as possible.

The Second Health System Enhancement to Address and Limit COVID-19 under the APVAX (HEAL 2) project will help the Department of Health in the procurement and ensuring delivery to the Philippines the vaccines certified by the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX) and bilateral vaccine suppliers that meet APVAX eligibility criteria.

According to the ADB statement, the project will be supported by US$300 million in co-financing from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The ADB and AIIB loans will fund the procurement of up to 110 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for as many as 50 million Filipinos.

HEAL 2 builds on and supports the ADB’s Health System Enhancement to Address and Limit COVID-19 (HEAL) project, which was approved in August 2020. Last January this year, the ADB approved the reallocation of US$25 million under the HEAL loan to fund the government’s advance payments to vaccine suppliers to secure the delivery of vaccines this year.

“The Philippines has one of the highest numbers of COVID-19 infections in Southeast Asia, with more than 600,000 confirmed cases as of 11 March,” the ADB statement said.

APVAX is ADB’s US$9 billion vaccine initiative offering rapid and equitable support to its developing members as they procure and deliver effected and safe COVID-19 vaccines. The vaccines eligible for funding under the HEAL 2 loan need to meet at least one of three APVAX requirements, they have been selected for procurement through COVAX, prequalified by the World Health Organization, or their manufacture is authorized by a Stringent Regulatory Authority (SRA) in the country of production.

“Any vaccine supply contract supported by ADB will follow ADB’s procurement rules and guidelines, including its anticorruption and integrity policy. Under the HEAL 2 loan agreement, ADB will pay vaccine suppliers directly. The financing will also follow global best practices on safeguards measures, including waste management of medical supplies,” the ADB statement emphasized.

The ADB has released some US$209.5 million in grants and loans since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year to help the Philippines fund its programs to alleviate the plight of the most vulnerable sectors of society. (Melo M. Acuña)

ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa. (ADB file photo)

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