ADB to help poor nations access COVID-19 vaccines 

Published November 17, 2020, 12:09 PM

by Chino S. Leyco

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said it will extend technical assistance to developing countries, like the Philippines, to help them secure access to a coronavirus vaccine as well as in their distribution.

In a statement, the Manila-based multilateral institution said it earmarked $20.3 million in technical assistance to  help its developing members access vaccines for COVID-19 and establish system s to enable equitable and efficient distribution.
The funds will support vaccine-related health system assessments and the development of country readiness plans to strengthen the capacity to access, introduce, deploy, deliver, and monitor vaccines safely and effectively, ADB said.
The bank also added the funds will help members assess and strengthen vaccine cold chain and logistics, infection control, supply and skills of health workers, risk communications, and real-time data capturing and monitoring. 
Lastly, ADB said the technical assistance will support the identification and promotion of innovative cold chain and vaccine tracking technologies. 
While the Asia and the Pacific region has largely done well in COVID-19 response, Woochong Um, ADB director general for sustainable development and climate Change, noted that ensuring access to a safe, effective, and equitable vaccine is the next frontier in the fight against the virus.
“With these additional grant resources, ADB can immediately support our developing members to undertake urgent actions, including vaccine system assessments and vaccine deployment strategies, to ensure vaccines are delivered efficiently and fairly,” Um said.
ADB expects to implement the technical assistance with its partners UNICEF and the World Health Organization, in coordination with COVAX, Gavi, the World Bank, bilateral agencies, among others.
The funds comprise $20 million from ADB’s  technical assistance special fund (TASF) and $300,000 from the High-Level Technology Fund financed by the Government of Japan. 
ADB already approved a $20 billion expanded assistance package in April to support its developing members’ COVID-19 response.

Earlier, President Duterte said his government can borrow $300 million to purchase the coronavirus vaccines for distribution to Filipinos.
As soon as more vaccine supply becomes available, Duterte committed that the government would give priority to the country’s poor in the distribution of the life-saving drug