The Asian Development Bank has approved a loan of USD I.5 billion (about Rs 11,185 crores) to India for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.
"ADB today approved a USD 1.5 billion loan to help the Government of India purchase safe and effective vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)," ADB said. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a Beijing-based multilateral development bank focused on developing Asia, is expected to co-finance an additional USD 500 million for the project.
The loan will fund at least 66.7 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses for about 31.7 crore people and support India's National Deployment and Vaccination Plan. India aims to vaccinate 94.47 crore people aged above 18 fully. Priority groups include healthcare and frontline workers, senior citizens, and those aged 45-59 years with comorbidities.
"ADB's support will help the government protect its citizens from further transmission of this disease and save lives," said ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa.
Asakawa further added that vaccines are critical in overcoming the health, social, and economic impacts of the pandemic. This includes rejuvenating economic activities, sustaining health services, restoring livelihoods, and reopening educational institutions, with a renewed focus on social and human development priorities.
A technical assistance programme from ADB worth USD 4 million is ongoing in the country. This includes USD 2 million support from ADB's Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction and involves improving the monitoring of biomedical waste management, risk communication, and community engagement to raise awareness on COVID-19 appropriate behaviour and the benefits of vaccination, with a focus on women and vulnerable groups. This is helping to strengthen India's vaccine delivery system, ADB said. The support is being provided in close collaboration with the World Health Organisation and the United National Children's Fund.
ADB had approved a USD 1.5 billion COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support Programme to support India's immediate pandemic response efforts in 2020. It then approved another USD 300 million to strengthen and improve access to comprehensive primary healthcare in urban areas and to better respond to future pandemics and other emergencies.
ADB's project is financed through its USD 9 billion Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility launched in December 2020 to provide rapid and equitable vaccine-related support to ADB developing member countries.