Health · June 21, 2022

World Bank approves SA’s R7.6 billion loan for Covid vaccines

The World Bank has approved a €454.4 million (about R7.6 billion) loan to South Africa for the country’s Covid Emergency Response Project.

The loan was approved by the bank’s group board on Monday and follows a request from the South African government for assistance in funding vaccine procurement contracts. In a joint statement, the World Bank and the National Treasury said the project would retroactively fund the procurement of 47 million doses of vaccine.

“South Africa is the epicenter of the Covid pandemic in Africa with the highest cumulative number of infections and deaths.

“By supporting the country’s Covid vaccination program, the project will help the government better cope with the pandemic as the country experiences its fifth wave and help the government create the fiscal space needed to strengthen its healthcare system and is necessary to ensure financial and institutional sustainability.”

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SA’s robust immunization program has delivered 36.4 million doses, with approximately 50.3% of adults and 29.9% of 12- to 17-year-old adolescents vaccinated (as of June 13).

But they said more could be done to increase vaccination coverage, curb the spread of the virus and boost the country’s economic recovery. Along with the Genomic Surveillance Project, the Covid Emergency Response Project is part of the World Bank’s expanded support for South Africa’s response to the pandemic.

The surveillance project aims to improve the ability to identify variants of Sars-CoV-2 in South Africa and the Africa region. The Treasury said the loan is part of the government’s effort to reduce debt servicing costs by using cheaper sources of funding through multilateral development banks.

“It also supports the health system in responding to Covid through the rollout of vaccines, critical research and treatment measures,” says Ismail Momoniat, acting director-general of the National Treasury.