USAID commits fresh grant to PH vaccine plan

Published April 15, 2021, 2:02 PM

by Chino S. Leyco

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has committed additional funds to the Philippines’ vaccine program as President Duterte’s chief economic manger supported an appeal to nations with excess vaccine supplies to release them as soon as possible. 

Speaking before senior executives of American and Philippine companies on Wednesday, April 15, Gloria Steele, USAID acting administrator said the US development agency will provide additional $3.5 million to support the country’s delivery of COVID-19 vaccines.

Gloria Steele, USAID acting administrator (USAID Philippines / YouTube / MANILA BULLETIN)

This fresh funding from USAID is expected to help the Philippines in strengthening its vaccine supply chain, monitoring vaccine safety, and delivering effective communication campaigns to address vaccine hesitancy.  

The new US aid is also seen to assist local government units as they plan for, track, and administer vaccines.

“Our assistance will strengthen vaccine supply chains and support local governments to plan, track, and deliver vaccines, and it will help the Philippines Department of Health and local governments, distribute essential public health messaging around the vaccines,” Steele said.

Washington recently committed $4 billion to the COVAX facility where Philippines is expected to get vaccines that are enough to immunize at least 20 percent of Filipinos by the end of the year.

Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, USAID has so far committed a total of $25 million, or approximately P1.25 billion, to the health sector, Steele said.

Meanwhile, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the Philippines is strongly supporting World Bank President David Malpass appeal to countries with excess COVID-19 vaccines to immediately release them.

Over the past weeks, the government’s vaccination rollout has not been widespread and the nation also saw its worst coronavirus surge. The COVID-19 death rate is now roughly 14 people per hundred thousand of the population.

Despite the supply challenges, Dominguez said the government is fully rolling out its vaccination plan and maintains its target to inoculate at least 70 million Filipinos or 100 percent of adult population within the year.

“We have arranged for the delivery of more than 140 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines this year. About 15 percent will be delivered in the first half of this year and 85 percent in the second half,” Dominguez said.

The majority of the financing needed for the vaccination program was also been sourced through loans from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the finance chief said.