World Bank President David Malpass said there were still “many unknowns” about the highly contagious virus, and “much more” aid might be needed, but he refused to elaborate.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday warned of a global shortage of protective equipment to fight the disease as well as price gouging as the death toll from the respiratory illness mounted.
Malpass urged the COVID-19 affected countries to coordinate their actions on a regional and international level. He also the speed and breadth of the response would be critical to saving lives.
“We’re announcing today an initial package of immediate support that will make available up to $12 billion to respond to country requests for crisis financing of their immediate needs and also to lessen the tragic impacts of the crisis,” Malpass said.
“The point is to move fast; speed is needed to save lives,” Malpass said during a teleconference with reporters. “There are scenarios where much more resources may be required. We’ll adapt our approach and resources as needed.”
World Bank says $12 billion available to fight COVID-19
World Bank’s International Development Association could also receive additional funds in the second quarter of 2020 if its Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) is triggered, which has not occurred yet, Malpass said.
Such action would not require global health officials to declare the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, he added.
The World Bank said the $12 billion in fast-track grants, loans, and low-interest loans would help developing countries provide better access to health services. It will also strengthen disease surveillance and bolster public health interventions, as well as work with the private sector to reduce the impact on economies.
About $4 billion of the funding will be reprogrammed from other Bank instruments, officials said.