ADB wants investments in COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing to boost global supply

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(FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 3) — Loan deals for COVID-19 response should also focus on expanding the capacity of vaccine manufacturers, the Asian Development Bank chief said on Monday.

ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa said there is more to the global vaccination program beyond buying the temperature-sensitive doses.

"To secure financing for DMCs (developing member countries) to procure vaccines is one thing, but to actually purchase the sufficient amount of vaccines in a timely manner in the market is quite another because of the very, very huge gap between supply and demand," Asakawa said in his statement delivered virtually during the opening ceremony of 54th annual meeting of governors.

"Currently, I think it has become imperative for us to invest more and more in the vaccine manufacturing companies in our region to expand our production of vaccines," he said.

India, the world's biggest vaccine producer, is facing delays in exporting the supply made by the Serum Institute of India (SII) as the country battles an unprecedented surge in coronavirus infections. The SII is tasked to produce AstraZeneca vaccines for lower-income economies who will receive allocations from the World Health Organization's COVAX facility.

Asakawa added that the Philippines is among the first member-states to secure a loan from ADB's $9 billion Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility or APVAX, having borrowed $400 million (about ₱19.5 billion) for the local vaccination program.

This is the second biggest source of external debt for vaccine purchases next to the ₱24.3 billion borrowed from the World Bank, according to vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr.

The Philippines also borrowed ₱14.6 billion from the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank for a total of ₱58.4 billion in official development assistance, accounting for 70% of the ₱82.5 billion vaccine procurement budget for 2021.

READ: All loans from multilateral lenders will directly go to vaccine makers – Palace