THE PHILIPPINES secured a fresh $250-million loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which will be used to buy more coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines next year.
In a statement on Monday, the multilateral lender said it approved the loan that would help the Philippine government acquire 40 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for eligible children and booster shots for adults.
“ADB is supporting the government’s drive to provide vaccines to protect its citizens and save lives, especially with the emergence of new COVID-19 variants. Vaccination will allow the health system to better manage the effects of the virus and will help sustain economic recovery. It is key to the country’s full recovery from the pandemic,” ADB Principal Social Sector Specialist for Southeast Asia Sakiko Tanaka said in a statement.
The vaccine procurement project will be co-financed by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which will also give a $250-million loan for vaccine procurement. The ADB and AIIB will directly pay the vaccine manufacturers for the doses that will be ordered by the Health department.
The ADB loan comes after the Philippines secured a new $600-million loan from the World Bank (WB) over the weekend. The WB loan will support the Philippine government’s reform programs, including the amendments to the Retail Trade Liberalization Act.
These loans will add to the government’s pandemic-related foreign borrowings that reached $23.4 billion as of Dec. 7, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III earlier said.
Most of the foreign loans were used for COVID-19 response and recovery projects, including vaccine procurement.
The National Government’s outstanding debt, both domestic and external, widened to P11.97 trillion as of end-October. This is 19.38% higher than a year earlier.
Latest data from the Department of Health showed 37.431 million Filipinos are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Data from the Johns Hopkins University showed 36.59% of the population has already been fully vaccinated.
The government hopes to fully vaccinate at least 54 million Filipinos by the end of 2021.
In March, the ADB also helped the Philippines purchase 85.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines through bilateral agreements. As of Dec. 2, 81% of the supply has been delivered.
In November, the ADB approved a $600-million loan to support the implementation of the country’s universal healthcare reform program. — L.W.T.Noble