World Bank says India can use funds for vaccine plans

World Bank says India can use funds for vaccine plans

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Mumbai: The World Bank’s $1-billion support package to help India fight the novel coronavirus can be used for the country’s Covid-19 vaccine programme, an official of the global financial institution said. The remark was in response to ET’s query on whether the World Bank has received any request from the Indian government for its Covid-19 vaccine distribution programme. “We have an ongoing Covid programme of $1 billion to support the government of India, specifically in the heath sector. It covers various aspects – from emergency response to supporting states’ build delivery capacity. It also has the flexibility to be used for any aspect of the vaccine programme,” a World Bank spokesperson told ET.

The official said it is up to the government to use the resources where it sees the greatest value addition, and that the World Bank would be happy to support the government on the vaccination area if requested, but at the moment there are no requests. India has three vaccine candidates in phase 2/3 trials. While several countries have started placing advance orders for Covid-19 vaccines by paying money upfront, India is yet to do so. The officials involved in India’s Covid-19 vaccine development programme have said the country has several avenues for vaccine financing and it will look at the options closer to the time when companies come out with their trial data.

222Agencies

In September this year, David Malpass, group president, World Bank, announced that its board will release up to $12 billion of fast track financing to countries for the purchase and deployment of Covid-19 vaccines “once they have been approved by several highly respected, stringent regulatory agencies”.

This financing will be for low and middle-income developing countries. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank, is also investing in vaccine manufacturers. Hyderabad-based Biological E is one of them. The funding from IFC for companies is to address production bottlenecks, including to purchase vials, needles and syringes and cold storage capacity.

“Our vaccine financing is additional to the Covid fast-track health financing we announced in March and is an important part of the World Bank Group’s intention to make available $160 billion in grants and financial support over a 15-month period to help developing countries respond to the health, social, and economic impacts of Covid-19,” Malpass had said in September.



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