Gov’t eyes $9-B loan for COVID-19 vaccine purchase

The government considers borrowing up to $9 billion (P433.3 billion) from the World Bank to fund the country’s purchase of a potential COVID-19 .

Jr., COVID-19 national task force chief, said on Monday that the Philippines would have to enter into “multilateral engagements with our credit partners,” such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

According to the vaccine czar, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III was already working on how much loan the government could get from the World Bank to advance the COVID-19 vaccine.

“A lot of funds the government has set aside P10 billion and may get an additional P8 billion for vaccines, Galvez said. This is apart from the P25-billion standby fund for COVID-19 response under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act,” he said.

“Plus, more or less the $5 to $9 billion that can be credited to our account, we already have allocated a lot of funds. This is why the President is very much confident that we already have the money, and he will still get more for the vaccine,” Galvez said.

In September, the Department of Health (DOH) said some vaccine manufacturers ask for advance payment for the Philippines to secure supplies. However, the procurement law prohibits agencies from paying preordered items.

Also read: PhilHealth pays P700M to Philippine Red Cross

Gov’t eyes $9-B loan for COVID-19 vaccine purchase

The government was planning to buy an initial 50 million doses of a vaccine for 25 million Filipinos, but health workers and the elderly would be prioritized, Galvez said.

said Monday that the bulk of would be available by the end of 2021 to early 2022.

He said that the preparation for the COVID-19 vaccination implementation could take at least six months. He added the supply is a challenge since richer countries could get access to the vaccines first.

The COVAX vaccine facility estimates that the COVID-19 vaccines would cost at least $21 for two doses to be given with a 28-day interval. COVAX is a global collaboration of manufacturers and experts which seeks to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.