loans and grants

World Bank approves $500-million loan for Philippines’ COVID-19 vaccines

Ralf Rivas
World Bank approves $500-million loan for Philippines’ COVID-19 vaccines

FIRST JAB. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III administers the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Cardinal Santos Medical Center chief medical officer Dr. Zenaida Javier Uy.

File photo from Cardinal Santos Medical Center

The financing also supports other public health measures, including the use of web platforms to gather feedback on the vaccination program

The World Bank on Friday, March 12, approved another $500-million (P24.2-billion) loan to support the Philippine government’s efforts to purchase COVID-19 vaccines.

Priority groups, which include frontline health workers, senior citizens, and indigent communities, will be vaccinated first. They will be followed by teachers, government workers, indigenous peoples, and then the remaining population.

The multilateral lender noted that besides the vaccine purchase, the additional financing will also support public health measures, such as the use of web platforms to gather citizen feedback on the vaccination program, as well as feedback surveys to boost citizen engagement.

“Procuring and administering vaccines provides the country an added layer of defense against COVID-19 on top of public health measures or interventions like social distancing, wearing of masks, and washing hands,” said Ndiamé Diop, World Bank country director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand.

The new financing adds to the World Bank’s ongoing Philippines COVID-19 Emergency Response Project approved in April 2020, which funded the purchase of laboratory equipment and test kits, personal protective equipment, and ambulances, as well as medical equipment and supplies such as mechanical ventilators, portable x-ray machines, and infusion pumps.

The World Bank is one of the largest sources of funding for developing countries. It has a $12-billion fund to help low- and middle-income countries purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments, and strengthen vaccination systems.

The Philippine government budgeted some P82.5 billion for vaccines, of which most or P80 billion will come from loans and excess revenues.

Vaccines were also procured by the private sector, with half of the purchases set to be donated to the government. –

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.