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World Bank approves $500 million to vaccinate 54 million Bangladeshis

  • Published at 01:01 pm March 19th, 2021
Vaccine Bangladesh DMC
File Photo: A nurse fills a syringe with the Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield vaccine at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital vaccination centre in Dhaka, Bangladesh, February 9, 2021 Reuters

The financing aims to help Bangladesh procure safe and effective vaccines, expand vaccine storage facilities, and distribute vaccines to 31% of the population

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors have approved $500 million in financing from the International Development Association (IDA) to help Bangladesh vaccinate 54 million people against Covid-19.

The additional financing to the Covid-19 Emergency Response and Pandemic Preparedness Project will help Bangladesh procure safe and effective vaccines, expand vaccine storage facilities, and distribute vaccines to 31% of the population, according to a press statement issued by the World Bank on Friday.

It aims to support the Bangladesh government’s plan to cover 40% of the population in the first phase of vaccination.

“Bangladesh has taken quick action to combat Covid-19 by rolling out a national vaccination program. To achieve the objectives of the program, fast and equitable access to vaccines will be important,” said Mercy Tembon, World Bank country director for Bangladesh and Bhutan. 

“This financing will help Bangladesh strengthen its national systems to ensure the prompt delivery of vaccines to one-third of its population,” she added.

The project will also provide training to personnel for a successful vaccination program, and strengthen the capacity of the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) for testing vaccines in the country.

The financing will cover the cost of deployment of the vaccines acquired through the Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (Covax) for about 20% of the population. 

For the remaining 11% of the population, the financing will cover direct purchases of vaccines from manufacturers or through Covax, and the costs related to administering the vaccination. 

The government is also purchasing vaccines using its own resources, which will cover another 9% of the population.  

“Building on Bangladesh’s long and successful history of managing child immunization programs, the financing will play a critical role in getting those who need it most immunized against Covid-19,” said Iffat Mahmud, senior operations officer at the World Bank and the task team leader for the project

“The project will continue to support setting up testing laboratories and expand provision of intensive care at the district level,” she added.

With this additional financing, the World Bank’s support to the project now stands at $600 million. 

In addition to this, the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) is providing $100 million for this project. 

The IDA credit has a 30-year term, including a five-year grace period. Bangladesh currently has the largest ongoing IDA program totaling over $13.5 billion. 

The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh and has committed about $35 billion in grants, interest-free, and concessional credits to the country since its Independence. 

The bank is also providing technical assistance and knowledge-sharing workshops for countries in South Asia on different aspects of designing and deploying fair and equitable vaccine strategies.