WASHINGTON (AFP) – The World Bank said on Wednesday it had increased its fund for the Covid-19 vaccine for developing countries from $ 8 billion to $ 20 billion.
In addition, the bank’s private finance arm has secured 600 million euros ($ 710 million) for a South African vaccine maker to increase production, the institution said.
“Together, the actions announced today on the production, deployment and financing of vaccines will save lives, stimulate economic recovery and help ensure people in developing countries have a chance to prosper,” the president told reporters. of the World Bank Group, David Malpass.
The $ 20 billion is available until 2022 to finance the distribution of vaccines as well as cold chains and training of health workers, the bank said in a statement.
As of Wednesday, the bank had distributed $ 4.4 billion to 51 developing countries, half of which was in the form of grants or low-cost loans.
Malpass again urged advanced countries to step up their support for access to vaccines in developing countries, including distributing excess doses, especially as more of the population in rich countries is receiving their vaccines. .
His comments came after the first meeting of a working group on vaccines made up of leaders from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization.
In a joint statement, they said the task force was created to serve as a “war room” to coordinate vaccine delivery to developing countries.
“We are deeply concerned about the limited number of vaccines, therapies, diagnostics and support for deliveries available in developing countries,” the statement said.
“Urgent action is needed now to stop the growing human toll from the pandemic and to stop further divergences in economic recovery between advanced economies and others.”
Axel van Trotsenburg, Chief Operating Officer of the World Bank, said: “Significant challenges remain regarding vaccine deployment and reluctance. We are taking action on all fronts to meet these challenges. “
Since the start of the pandemic, the Washington-based development lender has approved more than $ 150 billion to help address the health and social impacts of the crisis.
At the same time, the bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) has partnered with French, German and US development agencies on a finance package for Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Limited, a leading pharmaceutical company in South Africa.
The resources will allow the company to refinance its debt and increase vaccine production, IFC said in a statement.
The company contracted with Johnson & Johnson to complete and package the single dose vaccine.
“Aspen seeks to play a meaningful role in contributing to the goal of meeting the majority of Africa’s needs from production sites located in Africa,” said Stephen Saad, Managing Director of the Aspen Group.
Meanwhile, international donors on Wednesday pledged more than $ 700 million to South African pharmaceutical giant Aspen to increase production of Covid-19 vaccines and treatments on the under-vaccinated continent.
The continent, which mainly depends on the United Nations and the African Union for its vaccines, has struggled to keep pace with vaccination elsewhere in the world.
Just over one percent of Africa’s population was fully vaccinated last week, according to the World Health Organization, as many countries grapple with a third wave of infection fueled by more virus variants. transmissible.
Governments across Africa have called on the international community to help strengthen the continent’s vaccine supply chain to accelerate deployment.
The World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) on Wednesday announced “long-term funding” of 600 million euros ($ 711 million) for Aspen “to support the development of vaccines for African countries.”
The whole will be co-financed by the IFC as well as by French, German and American development institutions.
IFC Managing Director Makhtar Diop said having an immune population would be key to Africa’s economic recovery from the pandemic.
“The fact that we only have one percent of Africa’s population now vaccinated will slow down,” he told AFP, stressing the impact on tourism and trade.
Africa is working with the European Union and other partners to help establish regional vaccine manufacturing centers.
Aspen already imports drug components from U.S. vaccine producer Johnson & Johnson and handles the final syringe filling and packaging process at a site in the southeastern city of Gqeberha.
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