$12bn COVID vaccine fund for poor nations in consideration at the World Bank

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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World Bank President David Malpass is seeking board approval for a $12 billion coronavirus vaccine funding scheme to aid poor and developing countries to secure a sufficient share of vaccine doses when they become available in the coming months.

According to the reports, the program which is the part of Multilateral Lender’s $160 billion in coronavirus aid funding, is aimed at helping countries acquire and deliver vaccines to healthcare and other critical workers early on and increase global development. The board was supposed to discuss the proposal at the beginning of October, Mr. Mlapass stated.

More than $3 billion has been promised by the US government to secure hundreds of millions of vaccine doses under production by Britain’s AstraZeneca Pharmaceutical Company, the US drug company Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech.

The World Bank’s strategy aims to support poor and middle-income countries, where the virus spreads most rapidly, on the same footing as wealthy countries by ensuring that they have supply-secure funding and distribution infrastructure that will enable drug makers to meet their demands.

“Our goal is to alter the course of the pandemic for the low- and middle-income developing countries,” Malpass answered.

“This is a market signal to the manufacturers that there will be financing available for the developing countries and there will be demand. We will begin by asking the manufacturers to begin creating allocations for these countries.”

The World Bank was also asking rich countries to “over-reserve” more doses than they would need to release those doses to poorer countries, remarked the World Bank chief.

He added that equal distribution of vaccines was important to the world and that he was working to persuade countries to work for better results for the world.

According to Malpass, “the World Bank program will disburse grant or loan funding to countries and will be able to pick any vaccine that meets safety standards, including approval from many ‘highly regarded, strict regulatory agencies,’ such as those in the United States, Canada, Japan and several European countries”.

In July, the private sector arm of the World Bank, the International Financing Corp, unveiled a $4 billion financing platform to raise investment in the development of vaccines and other essential health products in developing countries.