The World Bank has provided Bangladesh with $500 million as additional financing for the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines to vaccinate 5.4 crore people.
A loan agreement was signed between the Bangladesh government and the World Bank on Sunday, 11 April at the Economic Relations Division (ERD) in the capital.
The World Bank has provided the loan under the "Covid-19 Emergency Response and Pandemic Preparedness" project being implemented by the Health Services Division.
Fatima Yasmin, secretary of the ERD, and Mercy Tembon, country director of the World Bank, Dhaka office, signed the agreement.
The World Bank's Board of Executive Directors approved the additional financing from the International Development Association (IDA) on 18 March 2021.
The additional financing will help Bangladesh procure safe and effective vaccines, expand vaccine storage facilities, and distribute vaccines to about 31% of its population under the government's prioritised plan of covering 40% of the population in the first phase of vaccination.
The project will continue to provide support to strengthen the national health systems to detect, prevent, and treat Covid-19 cases, as well as prepare for future health emergencies.
Further, it will help training programmes for successful vaccination and strengthen the capacity of the Directorate General of Drug Administration for testing vaccines in the country.
The financing will cover the cost of deployment of the vaccines acquired through the Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX) for about 20% of the population. For the remaining 11% of the population, it will cover direct purchases of vaccines from manufacturers or through COVAX, and the costs related to administering the vaccination.
In parallel, the government is purchasing vaccines using resources that will cover another 9% of the population.
According to the World Bank, with this additional financing, its support to the project now stands at $600 million. Besides, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is providing $100 million more for this project.
The IDA credit has a 30-year term, including a five-year grace period. Bangladesh currently has the largest ongoing IDA programme totalling over $13.5 billion.
The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh and has committed $35 billion in grants, interest-free, and concessional credits to the country since its Independence.
The World Bank, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries respond to the health, social and economic impacts of Covid-19. This includes $12 billion to help low and middle-income countries purchase and distribute Covid-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments, and strengthen vaccination systems.