(AFP) — The World Bank said Tuesday that it approved US$12 billion for developing countries to finance the purchase and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatment.
The financing “aims to support vaccination of up to a billion people,” the bank said in a statement.
The money is part of an overall World Bank Group (WBG) package of up to US$160 billion through June 2021 designed to help developing countries battle the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“This financing package helps signal to the research and pharmaceutical industry that citizens in developing countries also need access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines,” the statement read.
“It will also provide financing and technical support so that developing countries can prepare for deploying vaccines at scale, in coordination with international partners.”
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,” World Bank Group President David Malpass said in the statement.
The financing “will also support countries to access to Covid-19 tests and treatments, and expand immunization capacity to help health systems deploy the vaccines effectively,” the statement added.
The financing approval was expected as Malpass had announced the project in late September.
While vaccines have yet to appear on the market, Malpass noted in an interview with the French daily Le Figaro that it was necessary to prepare because of the complicated vaccine distribution process.
The bank’s approach, according to the statement, draws on its “significant expertise in supporting large scale immunisation programs for vaccine preventable diseases, as well as public health programs to tackle infectious diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases”.