Let me begin by emphasizing one more important projection for our case to act and act together. Our assessment on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic indicates that by the end of 2021, up to 150 million more people could be pushed into extreme poverty.
In terms of the issues for discussion today, we would like to firstly, share that the WB with the IMF is continuing its work on addressing debt burden issues beyond DSSI to address deeper debt resolution.
Secondly, we are working hard to make sure that low- and middle-income countries are not left behind and as some of you have mentioned, we have approved up to $12 billion to help countries purchase and distribute vaccines, tests and treatments, and strengthen health systems.
Last week, our Board approved the first COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Lebanon, for more than 2 million people, including refugees and migrant workers. We are preparing such projects for over 35 countries – worth $3 billion – for Board approval.
Together with other ACT-A partners we are supporting governments with vaccine readiness assessments in over 100 countries, including distribution infrastructure, training of health workers, and communications strategy.
Our private sector arm, IFC is also helping to scale up private sector capacity for key medical products, cold chain, vaccines and therapeutics.
We need strong partnerships and cooperation, within countries and across regions, to combat this pandemic. In that regard, it would be important to discuss how countries with excess supply beyond their immediate needs could donate and broaden global access, and to ensure restrictions do not impede flows of vaccines to where it is most needed.
Finally, the World Bank Group co-leads the ACT-A Health Systems Connector together with the Global Fund and WHO. Our vaccine financing is aligned with the principles of the ACT-Accelerator and our resources help countries procure both through and outside of COVAX which is essential for countries to cover more than 20 percent of their populations.