World Bank rubber-stamps $480 million loan for South Africa’s vaccine procurement

World Bank rubber-stamps $480 million loan for South Africa's vaccine procurement

South Africa’s National Treasury has announced the approval of a ZAR7.6 billion ($480 million) low-interest loan from the World Bank, for the procurement of vaccines which is part of the COVID-19 Emergency Response Project.

 The project will retroactively finance the procurement of 47 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by the Government of South Africa, said a statement.

South Africa is the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa, with the highest cumulative numbers of infections and deaths.

The country has recorded the most coronavirus cases and deaths on the African continent, with over 3.9 million confirmed cases and more than 101,000 deaths.

It initially struggled to secure vaccines due to limited supplies and protracted negotiations, but it is now well-supplied with doses.

Ismail Momoniat, National Treasury Acting Director-General, South Africa said, “The loan forms part of government efforts to reduce debt service costs by making use of cheaper sources of funding through multilateral development banks, whilst supporting the health system to respond to COVID-19 through the roll-out of vaccines, critical research, and treatment measures.”

As of Monday, just over 50% of South Africa’s adult population of around 40 million people had received at least one vaccine dose. In recent months the vaccination campaign has slowed, despite efforts to boost takeup.