The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Friday approved a $500 million loan for Pakistan to help it procure Covid-19 vaccines and strengthen the country’s capacity to implement its vaccination programme.
ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa, in a statement, said the loan for Pakistan was sanctioned under the ADB’s $9 billion Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility launched in December 2020.
He said the project will support Pakistan’s national vaccination plan by enabling it to purchase an estimated 39.8m doses of Covid-19 vaccines, safety boxes, and syringes.
The ADB chief added that the programme was aimed at offering rapid and equitable vaccine-related support to its 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," he said.
He underlined that the project would help protect vulnerable groups in Pakistan, adding that it was an integral part of the development partner package, helping the government to mitigate the health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic.
He said the ADB reaffirmed its full commitment to support Pakistan.
Asakawa underlined that the government was aiming to vaccinate the entire eligible population — around 119 million people comprising all those aged 18 years and above — while prioritising frontline health care workers, the elderly, marginalised groups including refugees and internally displaced persons, and people with comorbidities.
“ADB’s Covid-19 vaccine support project will provide financing to vaccinate over 18m people from priority groups.”
In May last year, the ADB had approved a $300 million emergency assistance for Pakistan to strengthen its public health response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Similarly in June 2020, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) had approved a $500 million loan to the country, co-funded by ADB, to support cash transfers to poor families adversely affected by coronavirus lockdowns and other government initiatives designed to alleviate the negative economic and social impacts of the pandemic.
The government of Norway had also contributed $5.28m in grant proceeds for Pakistan’s Covid-19 response last year, which was administered by the ADB.