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Asian Development Bank approves USD 1.5 billion loan to India for purchasing COVID-19 vaccines


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NEW DELHI: The Asian Development Bank has approved a USD 1.5 billion (around Rs 11,185 crore) loan to India for COVID-19 vaccine procurement.

"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 in a release on Thursday.

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is expected to co-finance an additional USD 500 million for the project, it said.

Beijing-based AIIB is a multilateral development bank focused on developing Asia.

It has members from all over the world.

The loan from ADB will fund at least 66.7 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses for an estimated 31.7 crore people, it added.

It will support India's National Deployment and Vaccination Plan which aims to fully vaccinate 94.47 crore people aged 18 years and above, accounting for 68.9 per cent of the population, said the Manila-headquartered agency.

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.

Vaccines are critical in overcoming the intertwined health, social, and economic impacts of the pandemic, including rejuvenating economic activities, sustaining health services, restoration of livelihoods, and reopening of educational institutions, with renewed focus on social and human development priorities, Asakawa said.

A USD 4 million (nearly Rs 30 crore) technical assistance programme from ADB is ongoing in the country, including USD 2 million support from ADB's Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction.

This is helping strengthen India's vaccine delivery system, ADB said.

This technical assistance programme 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 support is being provided in close collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

In 2020, ADB had approved a USD 1.5 billion COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support Programme to support India's immediate pandemic response efforts.

It also approved another USD 300 million loan to strengthen and improve access to comprehensive primary healthcare in urban areas and to better respond to future pandemics and other emergencies.

ADB said the 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.

Established in 1966, ADB is owned by 68 members, of which 49 are from the Asia Pacific region.

(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)