$1.2-B loans secured to pay for COVID-19 vaccines —DOF

Published March 17, 2021, 6:00 AM

by Chino S. Leyco

The government has already secured $1.2 billion in loans to fund the purchase of coronavirus vaccines, but the Duterte administration’s chief economic manager said their rollout hinges on the suppliers’ ability to deliver the ordered doses.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said on Tuesday, March 16, that the government has “secured” the funding needed to procure COVID-19 vaccines that should inoculate at least 70 million Filipinos or 100 percent of the country’s adult population.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III (Photo credit: https://www.dof.gov.ph/about/secretarys-page/)

But Dominguez also noted that even if the government has secured sufficient funds for its vaccine procurement, the pace of the rollout will depend on how fast suppliers can deliver the ordered doses for the country.

Recently, the World Bank approved $500 million while the Asian Development Bank (ADB) committed $400 million to support the government’s program to purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines.

Likewise, the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will co-finance the Philippines’ separate loan from ADB amounting to $300 million.

“We thank our multilateral development partners for stepping up their support for the Philippines’ COVID-19 response measures, particularly our ongoing efforts to secure these life-saving doses for our people and fast-track our vaccination rollout,” Dominguez said.

“The prompt and substantial financing extended by our multilateral partners is crucial to the accomplishment of the Duterte administration’s target to inoculate at least 70 million Filipinos–or 100 percent of our adult population–hopefully within this year,” he added.

Last March 12, World Bank approved the additional loan, which also aims to strengthen the country’s health systems, and overcome the impact of the pandemic, especially on the poor and the most vulnerable.

On the same day, the ADB also announced that the Philippines became the first recipient of financing support under the Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility (APVAX) with the approval of a $400 million loan that will help the country purchase safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. 

These loans from the three multilateral lenders—World Bank, ADB and AIIB—and the Philippines’ share in the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX) facility form part of the government’s three-pronged strategy on vaccine procurement.

Dominguez said that besides a multilateral approach, the government is also pursuing partnerships with the private sector; and working with the local government units (LGUs) to acquire safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for the people.

Around 40 million of the Philippine population who are 18 years old and below cannot be vaccinated, leaving around 70 million adults covered by the Duterte administration’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

Dominguez said the Philippines is negotiating to secure vaccine doses for 92 million individuals, or more than 100 percent of the country’s adult population, to account for any possible delay in deliveries or slippages.