Loans from multilateral agencies to secure funding for vaccines

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    The loans provided by the country’s multilateral development partners will secure the funding needed to procure coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines and keep on track the government’s target to inoculate at least 70 million Filipinos, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

    Carlos Dominguez, DOF secretary, in a statement yesterday expressed his gratitude to the Philippines’ multilateral partner-institutions for extending a total of $1.2 billion in fresh loans to the government to help fund the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program and its other pandemic response measures.

    “We thank our multilateral development partners–the World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)–for stepping up their support for the Philippines’ COVID-19 response measures, particularly our ongoing efforts to secure these life-saving doses for our people and fast-track our vaccination rollout,” Dominguez said.

    “The prompt and substantial financing extended by our multilateral partners is crucial to the accomplishment of the Duterte administration’s target to inoculate at least 70 million Filipinos, or 100 percent of our adult population, hopefully within this year, so that we can safely open wide our economy and return it to its pre-pandemic path of high and inclusive growth,” he added.

    Dominguez however said even if the government has secured sufficient funds for its vaccine procurement, the pace of the rollout will depend on how fast suppliers can deliver the ordered doses for the country.

    The WB said on March 12 it has approved $500 million in additional funding to support the Philippine government’s program to purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, strengthen the country’s health systems, and overcome the impact of the pandemic, especially on the poor and the most vulnerable.

    On the same day, ADB announced that the Philippines became the first recipient of financing support under its Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility (APVAX) with the approval of a $400 million loan that will help the country purchase safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.

    The ADB loan is for the Second Health System Enhancement to Address and Limit COVID-19 (HEAL 2) project that aims to assist the Department of Health in procuring and ensuring delivery to the country of vaccines certified by the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX) and bilateral vaccine suppliers that meet APVAX eligibility criteria.

    The ADB project will be supported by $300 million in co-financing from the AIIB.

    According to the ADB, its loan, along with the co-financing extended by the AIIB, will fund the procurement of up to 110 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for as many as 50 million Filipinos.

    Under the HEAL 2 loan agreement, ADB will pay vaccine suppliers directly.

    On top of the new HEAL 2 loan, ADB had earlier provided a total of $1.74 billion in loans and grants to the Philippines to support its COVID-19 response measures.

    The WB’s new $500 million loan, on the other hand, will assist the Philippines to vaccinate the population based on vulnerability and risk.

    According to the WB, the $500 million loan will supplement the Philippines’ ongoing COVID-19 Emergency Response Project, to which the bank earlier extended a $100 million loan.

    On top of these loans from multilateral institutions, the Philippines has also contributed $84 million to the COVAX Facility to secure 40 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

    These loans from the three multilateral lenders and the Philippines’ share in the COVAX facility form part of the government’s three-pronged strategy on vaccine procurement, the DOF said.

    Dominguez said besides a multilateral approach, the government is also pursuing partnerships with the private sector, and working with the local government units to acquire safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for the people.

    Around 40 million of the Philippine population who are 18 years old and below cannot be vaccinated, leaving around 70 million adults covered by the Duterte administration’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

    Dominguez said the Philippines is negotiating to secure vaccine doses for 92 million individuals, or more than 100 percent of the country’s adult population, to account for any possible delay in deliveries or slippages.