MANILA — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) Friday approved a $500 million loan to help Pakistan procure and deploy safe and effective coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines and strengthen the country’s capacity to implement its vaccination program.
The project will support Pakistan’s National Deployment and Vaccination Plan by purchasing and delivering an estimated 39.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, safety boxes, and syringes. It 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. “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. ADB reaffirms its full commitment to support Pakistan.”
The government is aiming to vaccinate the entire eligible population, around 119 million people comprising all those aged 18 and over, prioritizing frontline health care workers, the elderly, marginalized groups including refugees and internally displaced persons, and people with comorbidities. ADB’s COVID-19 Vaccine Support Project will provide financing to vaccinate over 18 million people from priority groups or about 15% of the eligible population.
ADB’s assistance will also help to strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, and the Federal Expanded Programme on Immunization to effectively implement the COVID-19 vaccination program. Both institutions will receive support in project management and coordination, procurement and supply chain management, gender mainstreaming, monitoring and evaluation, performance and information systems audits, and waste management.
The project builds on ADB’s earlier support for Pakistan’s COVID-19 response. This includes a $300 million emergency assistance loan to strengthen Pakistan’s public health response, expand treatment of COVID-19 cases, and provide cash transfers to the poorest families. A $500 million COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support program loan was approved 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. A $2 million grant under the Asia Pacific Disaster Relief Fund was provided to fund the immediate purchase of emergency medical supplies and equipment.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.
Earlier this week, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved the restructuring of the Pandemic Response Effectiveness in Pakistan (PREP) project, originally approved in April 2020, to redeploy $153 million to support the ongoing national vaccine drive in Pakistan.
Pakistan has achieved the landmark of vaccinated 35 million since the vaccination drive was launched in the country in February.
More than seven million people in Pakistan, to date, are fully vaccinated while the remaining have received their first dose. The government aims to inoculate 70 percent of its population by the end of this year.