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Covid-19: ADB approves $500 million loan for vaccine procurement

ADB will support Pakistan’s National Deployment and Vaccination Plan under with an estimated 39.8 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, safety boxes, and syringes.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved on Friday a $500 million loan for Pakistan to help the country procure and deploy Covid-19 vaccines, and strengthen its capacity to implement the immunisation program.

In a statement issued on Friday, the ADB said the project will support Pakistan’s National Deployment and Vaccination Plan under which an estimated 39.8 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, safety boxes, and syringes will be purchased and delivered.

ADB

The project is financed through ADB’s $9-billion Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility launched in December 2020 to offer rapid and equitable vaccine-related support to ADB developing member countries.

“Vaccines help to reduce the spread and mortality of Covid-19, restore confidence among citizens, and are vital to the economic recovery,” said ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa, quoted in the statement. “This project will help to protect vulnerable groups in Pakistan and is an integral part of the development partner package helping the government to mitigate the health, social, and economic impacts of the pandemic.”

The project builds on the Manila-based agency’s earlier support for Pakistan that includes a $300-million emergency assistance loan in May last year, aimed at strengthening the country’s public health response, expand treatment of Covid-19 cases, and provide cash transfers to the poorest families.

A $500-million Active Response and Expenditure Support programme loan was approved in June last year as well to support cash transfers to poor families adversely affected by Covid-19-related lockdowns and other government initiatives designed to alleviate the negative economic and social impacts of the pandemic.

Additionally, a $2-million grant under the Asia Pacific Disaster Relief Fund was provided in March last year as well to fund the immediate purchase of emergency medical supplies and equipment.

The assistance comes days after World Bank South Asia Regional Vice President Hartwig Schafer announced that the Group has reallocated $ 150 million for Pakistan to procure Covid-19 vaccines.

Currently battling the fourth wave of Covid-19, along with the fast-spreading Delta variant, the Pakistan government has accelerated its inoculation drive with vaccinations administered toppling the 1-million for the first time on August 3. The milestone came in tandem with renewed restrictions, and ‘penalties’ of staying unvaccinated.

Several reports suggest tens of thousands of Pakistanis are thronging coronavirus vaccination centres daily after officials announced penalties for the unvaccinated, including blocked cell phones and barred access to offices, restaurants, shopping malls and transport.

Queues for inoculations stretched more than a kilometre in some locations this week, in response to measures designed to help slow a Delta variant-fuelled surge in infections that has put pressure on Pakistan’s poor health infrastructure.

In a country that has a long anti-vaccination history, health workers said many in line were more afraid of the restrictions – some started August 1 while others kick in on August 30 – than the health threat of Covid-19. That perception was supported by people queuing who spoke to Reuters.

Pakistan on Friday reported another 4,745 cases with the Delta variant becoming the primary source of concern for many health officials.

The country has recorded more than 1 million infections and around 23,700 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

Ahmed Mukhtar Naqshbandi

Media person and communication expert for over 25 years. Worked with Dow Jones News, World Bank, CNBC Pakistan, Aaj TV, ARY TV, Abbtakk TV, Business Recorder, Pakistan Observer, Online News Network, TTI Magazine and other local and world Publications.

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