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China’s AIIB assesses new loan for PHL

REUTERS

CHINA’S ASIAN Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is assessing a proposed $250-million loan to support Philippine coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine procurement.

In a document released on Wednesday, AIIB said the Philippines’ project to procure more vaccines will be under the COVID-19 Crisis Recovery Facility.

The total project cost of $553.66 million is expected to be co-financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), with its own $250-million loan. The Philippine government covers the rest of the funds.

Led by the ADB, the project would be under the bank’s Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility program.

“The project will provide critically needed vaccines to assist the Government of the Philippines in mitigating adverse health, social, and economic impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” AIIB said.

The appraisal decision will be done this month, while the estimated date for approval of financing is in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, the World Bank is also assessing $300 million in additional financing for the Philippines’ COVID-19 response, with a board decision seen in December.

The World Bank said the fund would support the Philippine government in expanding COVID-19 vaccine coverage and provide additional doses to vulnerable groups.

The bank initially approved a $100-million COVID-19 healthcare response fund last year, then an additional $500 million in March 2021 for vaccine procurement.

COVID-19 vaccine booster shots could be available next year as the Finance department aims to secure the supply under a loan financing program before the end of the year.

Finance Undersecretary Mark Dennis Y.C. Joven last month said that the government is set to buy this year the COVID-19 booster doses that will be distributed in 2022.

A total of 32.5% of the Philippine population has been fully vaccinated, the Johns Hopkins University tracker showed.

The government plans to give out as many as 1.5 million vaccine doses daily starting Nov. 20. It plans to inoculate at least half of the country’s adult population by yearend.

Healthcare workers and other priority groups may be able to get booster shots this year, the Health department said last month. — Jenina P. Ibanez

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