Two major lenders are expected to provide US$1.0 billion in loans to help Bangladesh procure Covid-19 vaccines, officials said on Friday.
Both the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) would deploy their preparatory missions in Bangladesh soon for the purpose, they said.
Officials of the Economic Relations Division (ERD) said the two development partners have already started their preliminary work on extending their support to Bangladesh for buying vaccines to immunise the country’s 165 million people.
The WB has recently informed the government that it would offer $500 million assistance as an additional financing for the ongoing “Covid-19 emergency response and pandemic preparedness project,” an official said.
In April, the health ministry had taken up the project from $100 million WB lending on an emergency basis to detect, manage and treat suspected and confirmed Covid-19 cases.
The ADB has also recently assured the government of extending its support with $500 million loans for procuring vaccine as it is going to start a mission soon, the ERD official said.
“We have sought the assured fund as the budgetary support from the ADB. Let’s see how the donor responds to our requests,” another ERD official said.
“The ADB has already sent us its vaccine support policy. Now we are working on it,” the official added.
On Friday, the ADB launched a $9.0 billion vaccine initiative, known as the Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility for its developing members.
“The facility will play a critical role in helping our developing members meet these challenges, overcome the pandemic, and focus on economic recovery,” ADB president Masatsugu Asakawa said in a statement.
The ERD official said they have also sent request letters to Japan and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) seeking funds for procuring vaccines.
The government sought $500 million funds from Japan and another $300 million funds from AIIB for importing COVID-19 vaccines. Public health experts said Bangladesh is experiencing the second wave of Covid-19 as its infection rate has been increasing since early November.
The number of daily cases was as low as some 1,100 in October, which has now almost doubled.
The government had estimated some US$1.5 billion funds to be required for procuring the Covid-19 vaccine.
Health minister Zahid Maleque on Thursday said Bangladesh expects the first shipment of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine manufactured by Indian Serum Institute of India (SII) to arrive in early January.
Some 30 million doses of vaccines from the Oxford-AstraZeneca are likely to arrive in Bangladesh through the Serum Institute.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed in November, between the officials of the Health Ministry, SII, and Beximco Pharmaceuticals in Dhaka to collect the vaccines.
The WB has recently announced $12 billion worth of funds for supporting its member countries for Covid vaccine. Out of the funds, $6.0 billion would be provided from its soft window – IDA-for IDA-eligible countries including Bangladesh.
Some countries including the USA, the UK, Canada, and Israel have already started to get the vaccines from the producers,
China and Russia have started inoculation of the COVID vaccines on the human bodies.