The Financial Express

Bangladesh govt seeks $1.5b donor money to procure Covid-19 vaccines

| Updated: October 20, 2020 14:58:28

A small bottle labelled with a "Vaccine" sticker is held near a medical syringe in front of displayed "Coronavirus COVID-19" words in this illustration taken April 10, 2020 — Reuters/Illustration/Files A small bottle labelled with a "Vaccine" sticker is held near a medical syringe in front of displayed "Coronavirus COVID-19" words in this illustration taken April 10, 2020 — Reuters/Illustration/Files

Bangladesh has sought funds worth US$1.50 billion from the World Bank (WB), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan for procuring coronavirus vaccines, officials said on Monday.

Earlier, the government had estimated US$1.5 billion funds to be required for procuring the Covid-19 immunisation.

"We have sent a request letter to the ADB today. Besides, we have recently requested the World Bank and Japan for financing our vaccine procurement programme," said an Economic Relations Division (ERD) official on Monday.

"Now we are expecting the global lender's positive response to our request letter," he added.

Besides, the government has decided to request some other bilateral and multilateral development partners to finance Bangladesh's vaccine programme, the ERD official told the FE.

The ministry of finance (MoF) has recently estimated that Bangladesh would require funds between $1.0 and $1.5 billion for vaccinating Bangladesh's 165 million population free of cost, they said.

It has recently asked the ERD to look for the funds from different multilateral and bilateral development partners.

Another ERD official said although the fund is limited to the WB, they requested the global lender to distribute its concessional funds based on the size of population and present health conditions of the member countries.

The WB has recently announced $12 billion worth of funds for supporting its member countries for Covid vaccine. Out of the funds, $6.0 billion would be provided from its soft window--IDA-- for the IDA-eligible countries including Bangladesh.

"Bangladesh is the 3rd largest nation in terms of size of population among the 75 IDA eligible member countries in the globe. So, we are expecting higher funds than other WB members," he said.

Biological labs and drug manufacturers of many countries, including the USA, the UK, China, Germany, India, Russia and Bangladesh, are working to develop the vaccine against the Covid-19. Some of them have already started trials on humans.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) in its "Fair allocation mechanism for COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX facility" proposal said that 20 per cent priority group of total population will get vaccine in the first phase.

Among the priority groups, the health staffers and other frontline workers, population beyond 65 years of age, people with co-morbidity are on the list of first priority in 20 per cent the vaccination trajectory.

Then the remaining 80 per cent of the total population would get the vaccine at free of cost in the second round.

According to the MoF, it would require nearly $390 to $500 million worth of funds in the first phase to vaccinate 35 million people, who are on the priority list.

In the second phase, the country will need another $500 million to $1.0 billion worth of funds for inoculating the remaining people in the country.

A health ministry official said they would require funds in the current fiscal year (FY) 2021 and in the next FY2022.

The government has already contacted India and China for getting the vaccine upon their developments.

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