October 14, 2020: The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors on Tuesday approved an envelope of $12 billion for developing countries to finance the purchase and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments for their citizens.
The financing, which aims to support vaccination of up to a billion people, is part of an overall World Bank Group (WBG) package of up to $160 billion through June 2021 to help developing countries fight the COVID-19 pandemic. It adds new financing to the World Bank’s COVID-19 emergency response programs that are already reaching 111 countries.
This financing package helps signal to the research and pharmaceutical industry that citizens in developing countries also need access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. It will also provide financing and technical support so that developing countries can prepare for deploying vaccines at scale, in coordination with international partners. In implementing the program, the World Bank will support multilateral efforts currently led by WHO and COVAX.
“We are extending and expanding our fast-track approach to address the COVID emergency so that developing countries have fair and equal access to vaccines,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass. “Access to safe and effective vaccines and strengthened delivery systems are key to alter the course of the pandemic and help countries experiencing catastrophic economic and fiscal impacts move toward a resilient recovery.”
Developing countries will have different ways to acquire and deliver approved vaccines. The approach draws on the WBG’s significant expertise in supporting large-scale immunization programs for vaccine-preventable diseases, as well as public health programs to tackle infectious diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases.
In addition to purchasing COVID-19 vaccines, the WBG financing will also support countries to access to COVID-19 tests and treatments and expand immunization capacity to help health systems deploy the vaccines effectively. This includes supply chain and logistics management for vaccine storage handling, trained vaccinators, and large-scale communication and outreach campaigns to reach communities and households.
The new financing builds on the broader World Bank health program, which focuses on strengthening the health systems and health service delivery. The Bank’s robust network of technical advice and implementation support capacity, already working on the ground in many developing countries with partner agencies, will help to further strengthen these systems.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the WBG’s private sector arm, is also investing in vaccine manufacturers through its $4 billion Global Health Platform. The aim is to encourage ramped-up production of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics in advanced and developing economies alike—and to ensure that emerging markets gain access to available doses.