ADB OKs $400-M loan to help PH purchase COVID vaccines

Image Courtesy of Asian Development Bank

MANILA – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a USD400-million loan that will help the Philippines purchase a safe and effective vaccine against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

In a virtual press briefing Friday, ADB principal social sector specialist for Southeast Asia Sakiko Tanaka said the board approved Thursday the financing support for the coronavirus vaccine purchase of the Philippines, the first country to avail of the ADB’s Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility (APVAX).

Tanaka said they expect the signing for the loan agreement and its effectivity will be within this month.

“The government do(es) agree with the supply agreement with the COVAX (Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility) or the bilateral supplier and then they will request for payment to ADB and we review the request, including whether this vaccine is eligible for this facility, and then we will pay directly from ADB to the vaccine supplier. So it won’t go to the government account,” she said.

Tanaka said the USD400-million loan will be co-financed by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) of USD300 million, which will be approved later this month.

“This entire USD700-million loan will be used for the vaccine financing and aim to cover or provide the vaccine for up to 50 million Filipinos,” she added.

The Second Health System Enhancement to Address and Limit Covid-19 under the APVAX (HEAL 2) project will assist the Philippine Department of Health in procuring and ensuring delivery to the country of vaccines certified by the COVAX and bilateral vaccine suppliers that meet APVAX eligibility criteria.

HEAL 2 builds on and complements ADB’s Health System Enhancement to Address and Limit Covid-19 (HEAL) project, which was approved in August 2020.

In January 2021, ADB approved the reallocation of USD25 million under the HEAL loan to fund the government’s advance payments to vaccine suppliers to secure the delivery of vaccines this year.

“As you get more citizens inoculated, that will allow quicker acceleration in the reopening of the economy and will also be a boost to economic recovery,” ADB Country Director for the Philippines Kelly Bird said in the same briefing.

In a statement, ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa said, “Covid-19 vaccines are critical to accelerating the recovery of the Philippine economy, rebuilding livelihoods, and restoring quality jobs. With this financing, ADB seeks to help the country save lives and allow Filipinos to return to normal life as soon as possible.”

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