The World Bank on Tuesday said it has asked its board of directors to approve US$12 billion to help poor countries purchase and distribute eventual vaccines against COVID-19. The bank has already implemented emergency response programs in 111 countries and the extra money, if approved, would be aimed at low- and middle-income countries.
An effective and safe COVID-19 vaccine is the most promising path forward for the world to reopen safely, a World Bank spokesman said.
The global economy will not recover fully until people feel they can live, socialize, work and travel with confidence. The funds would be dispersed over 12 to 18 months.
COVID-19 vaccines are not commercially available yet but World Bank President David Malpass told French newspaper Le Figaro the process of distributing a vaccine is complex and it was important to anticipate the needs associated with it.
”We want the poorest countries to have access to it (a vaccine), and in these countries, we want the most vulnerable people and medical personnel to be vaccinated,” he said.
Malpass said the Washington-based development lender has experience with immunization programs like those directed at polio and measles, as well as in managing crises like the Ebola outbreaks.
The World Bank has rolled out a record US$ 45 billion in financial support between April and June as the global economy contracted amid the COVID-19 pandemic.