ADB Oks PH $400-M loan for vaccine purchase

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a USD400-million loan for the Philippine government for the purchase of vaccines against the Covid-19 pandemic.

ADB principal social sector specialist for Southeast Asia Sakiko Tanaka said Friday in a virtual press briefing, their board approved Thursday the financing support for the  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 loan agreement signing shortly and the US$400-million loan will be co-financed by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) that is also expected to approve later this month another  US300 million loan for the country.

“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 US$25 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,” he added.