March 12, 2021
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 12) — The Philippines has secured $900 million (about ₱43.67 billion) in fresh funding from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank for its purchase of COVID-19 vaccines and measures to respond to the health crisis.
In a statement emailed to the media Friday, the World Bank said its board of executive directors approved a $500 million (around ₱24.26 billion) loan to aid the government’s vaccine purchase and rollout.
“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,” said Ndiamé Diop, World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand.
The Washington-based institution said this financing will also support the execution of public health measures “until a majority of the population has been vaccinated or is deemed safe based on global evidence.”
The board approved the additional funding atop the current Philippines COVID-19 Emergency Response Project it approved in April last year, which aims to assist the country in fulfilling urgent healthcare needs to address the health crisis and further prepare its public health.
In a separate release, the Asian Development Bank announced the Philippines is the first to receive funding support under its Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility or APVAX. The regional lender said it approved a $400 million (about ₱19.4 billion) loan to assist the country’s efforts to procure vaccines.
“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,” said ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa.
Under the facility, the Second Health System Enhancement to Address and Limit COVID-19 project will help the Health Department in buying and ensuring the delivery of vaccines certified by the global COVAX facility and bilateral vaccine suppliers meeting APVAX’s eligibility criteria.
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is co-financing the project with a $300 million (around ₱14.5 billion) loan. Loans from both the AIIB and ADB will finance the purchase of up to 110 million COVID-19 vaccines that will cover as many as 50 million Filipinos.
Foreign lenders are among the government’s sources of funding for its pandemic response measures, along with vaccine procurement. As of January, the country’s outstanding debt shot past ₱10.3 trillion, a new record high.
The Philippines formally commenced its nationwide vaccination drive on March 1, a day after the arrival of 600,000 doses of CoronaVac vaccines donated by Chinese firm Sinovac.
Apart from being one of the last nations in Southeast Asia to roll out vaccines, the Philippines also has the highest case tally in the region next to Indonesia. To date, it has over 607,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
The Philippine government hopes to vaccinate up to 70 million Filipinos or two-thirds of the population this 2021.