The Asian Development Bank approved a loan of 1.5 billion dollars to the Indian government for the purchase of COVID 19 vaccines. Another $500 million is expected to be co-financed by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
The loans are expected to fund the procurement of 667 million vaccine doses that could be used to inoculate an estimated 317 million people. The financier hopes to support India's National Deployment and Vaccination Plan, which aims to fully vaccinate 944.7 million adults, accounting for 68.9 per cent of the population.
ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa said that ADB's support will help the government protect its citizens from further transmission of the disease and save lives. Vaccines are essential in overcoming the intertwined health, social and economic impacts of the epidemic, including rejuvenating economic activities, sustaining health services, restoring livelihoods and reopening of educational institutions, with renewed focus on social and human development priorities. The ADB already has an ongoing technical assistance grant of $4 million, including $2 million from ADB's Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction to strengthen India's vaccine delivery system.
ADB stated that this includes improving biomedical waste management, risk communication and community engagement to raise awareness on COVID 19 appropriate behavior and the benefits of vaccination, with a focus on women and vulnerable groups. This assistance will be provided along with the World Health Organization WHO and the United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF. The project is part of ADB's $9 billion Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility, which was launched in December 2020 to provide vaccine-related support to developing member countries.
In 2020, ADB approved a $1.5 billion COVID 19 Active Response and Expenditure Support Program for immediate COVID 19 relief. Another $300 million loan was approved to improve access to primary health care.