World Bank commits $12 billion for vaccinations in Africa

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The World Bank has committed $12 billion (R318 billion) to African countries to support vaccination programs across a continent that hasn’t been able to keep pace with developed nations’ rollouts.

The World Bank money will be in the form of grants or on “highly concessional terms”, said David Malpass, president of the World Bank, in a statement following a virtual meeting in January on the Africa Covid-19 vaccine financing and deployment strategy.

“We’re preparing emergency vaccine financing projects in 21 countries in Africa, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Niger, Mozambique, Tunisia, Eswatini and Cabo Verde to name a few,” said Malpass. “The funds are available now,” he said.

The cost of vaccinating 60% of Africa’s 1.3 billion people would be between $10 billion and $15 billion, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control.

The continent has secured 36% of its vaccine needs, with 25% of the doses to come from the Covax initiative and 11% from a separate African Union program, Africa’s CDC said. But it’s far behind the rest of the world in terms of acquisition and inoculations, with richer nations having secured the scarce shots early.

“Since the outbreak of Covid-19 last March, the bank has committed $25 billion to African countries to support their health and economic recovery, and we expect to commit an additional $15 billion by June,” Malpass said.

“We urge leaders of African countries to move quickly to secure vaccinations for their populations, and to avail themselves of the financing available from us.”

South Africa, the continent’s most industrialized nation, is one country that didn’t move quickly to secure vaccines. The first doses are due to arrive in February after widespread criticism of the government’s failure to sign bilateral agreements with drug makers in 2020.