PH set to tap more vaccine suppliers as WB restructures loan
The World Bank (WB) and the Philippines are working to restructure two earlier loans so that the government can tap more vaccine suppliers and fast-track mass inoculation.
Documents showed that the Washington-based multilateral lender wanted to apply its revised vaccine approval criteria to the Philippines’ COVID-19 emergency response project, which it had extended with a total of $600 million in loans.
The first project financing amounting to $100 million was approved last year, followed by the bigger $500-million loan this year for vaccine procurement.
Under the agreement for the second project loan, which took effect in March, the Philippines can negotiate and seal deals for vaccine brands, which had been approved by three stringent regulatory authorities (SRAs), including by emergency use authorization, in two regions or received emergency use listing by the World Health Organization (WHO).
But the World Bank in April revised its vaccine approval criteria to include brands, which received regular or emergency licensure or authorization from at least one SRA if supplied under the COVID-19 vaccines global access facility (Covax). Vaccines prequalified or under the WHO’s emergency use listing may also be procured through World Bank financing.
The World Bank said the Philippine government on Sept. 1 requested to apply the amended vaccine approval criteria to the COVID-19 emergency response project, which was being implemented by the Department of Health (DOH).
“The revised vaccine approval criteria will expand the options of safe and effective vaccines that may be acquired or deployed” through the World Bank loan, it said.
The World Bank said the implementation of the $600-million loans “progressed well” thus far.
“The DOH continues to accelerate the pace of implementation across all components, with the majority of the medical equipment, personal protective equipment, and necessary supplies under [the project] having been procured and distributed to front-line health facilities. However, it is to note that the overall procurement period for civil work still needs substantial improvement commensurate with a quick response protocol under an emergency project,” the World Bank said.
In the case of vaccine procurement, the World Bank said 13 million doses of Moderna were purchased through the loan extended this year.
The first batch of 888,000 doses was already delivered in June, while the bulk of orders —12.1 million—was expected to arrive by December.
Disbursement of total loan proceeds stood at 39.1 percent or $234.44 million.
Of the $100-million commitment under the first loan tranche, $72.98 million were already spent. The additional $500-million financing had $161.46 million or a 32.2-percent disbursement rate to date.
The Philippines can tap these loans until December 2023.
Meanwhile, separate documents showed that Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III on behalf of the Philippine government on Sept. 8 signed the loan agreement for the $300-million seismic resilience and emergency management project. INQ
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