The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved $18.9 million in grants to help four developing member countries (DMCs) in the Pacific roll out safe and effective vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The grants to Samoa ($8 million), Tonga ($5.5 million), Tuvalu ($1.5 million), and Vanuatu ($3.9 million) will support their COVID-19 vaccination programs for a combined population of almost 600,000 people. The project is financed by ADB’s $9 billion Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility launched in December 2020 to offer rapid and equitable vaccine-related support to ADB’s DMCs.
“These countries have incurred considerable costs in preventing COVID-19 transmission, and their health systems have been put under extreme pressure,” said ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa. “These grants will provide a platform to introduce safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines in these countries, strengthen health systems to receive and administer the vaccines, and raise community awareness about vaccination timetables.”
The grants will expand an existing ADB-supported vaccine program originally established to support the procurement of rotavirus, pneumococcal conjugate, and human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccines through the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the four countries aims to help enable the gradual reopening of their economies and reestablish the free movement of people.
As of March 2021, ADB had committed more than USD$750 million, including in cofinancing and technical assistance, to support Pacific countries respond to the pandemic.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.