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Speeches & Transcripts June 30, 2021

Remarks to the Media by World Bank Group President David Malpass on World Bank Group Action on COVID-19 Vaccines for Developing Countries

The World Bank Group has made important progress on a number of fronts over the last week.  Today, I’ll be announcing some important developments on COVID-19 vaccines for developing countries.  Last week, we released our new Climate Change Action Plan, and I’ll discuss those climate actions at the International Conference on Climate in Venice on July 11.  We’ve had a series of breakthroughs on Sudan, culminating with the World Bank Board’s approval, on Monday, of the HIPC Decision Point, which continues the path I started last year to achieve currency unification and 90% debt reduction.  We’re completing our fiscal year today with a record expansion of financing, including a substantial COVID response and record climate spending.  

Earlier today, I convened and chaired the first meeting of a Task Force on COVID-19 Vaccines, Therapeutics and Diagnostics for Developing Countries, including Kristalina Georgieva of the IMF, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the WHO, and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of the WTO.  We agreed that, as many countries are struggling with new variants and a third wave of COVID-19 infections, accelerating access to vaccines becomes even more critical to ending the pandemic everywhere.  We agreed to accelerate our close collaboration, and each redouble our efforts to get shots in arms.

I am pleased to share with you this morning four important announcements regarding the World Bank Group’s actions on COVID-19 vaccines for developing countries.

First, I am pleased to announce an important investment in vaccine production in Africa.  The International Finance Corporation, our private sector development arm, has today concluded the mobilization of a financing package totaling €600 million euros for Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Limited.  Aspen is a leading pharmaceutical company in South Africa that is playing a major role in producing COVID-19 treatment therapies and vaccines on the African continent.

IFC is joined in this venture by three national development finance institutions, Proparco of France, DEG of Germany, and DFC of the United States.  This package includes €200 million euros from IFC’s own account.

Aspen has partnered with Johnson & Johnson to compound, finish, fill and package the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at its fully certified sterile injectables facility in South Africa.  With today’s investment in this new production facility, Aspen is able to expand Johnson & Johnson filling, finishing, and packaging capacity for its COVID-19 vaccine.  By partnering with Aspen, the World Bank Group and IFC can contribute to the continent’s continued vaccine manufacturing development and support knowledge sharing and technology exchanges.

Second, I am pleased to announce that the World Bank yesterday exceeded the milestone of approval of COVID-19 vaccine deployment operations for over 50 developing countries, for a total of over $4 billion dollars.  Of 51 countries with World Bank vaccine financing approved so far, over half –27 countries – are in Africa.  More than half of the financing comes from the International Development Association (IDA), the Bank’s fund for the world’s poorest countries, and is on grant or highly concessional terms.  This financing is part of the Bank’s commitment to help developing countries acquire and distribute vaccines and strengthen their health systems.  The World Bank now is helping developing countries in every region of the world with vaccine purchase and rollouts, including efforts to boost supply, enhance transparency, accelerate deployment, and match available doses with country needs.

The Bank’s vaccine finance package is flexible.  It is being used by countries to acquire doses through COVAX, through the African Union, or directly contracted from approved manufacturers.  It also finances vaccine deployment and health system strengthening, such as vaccine cold-chains, training, health workers, communications, and outreach.

Third, I’m pleased to announce that the World Bank can fully fund the purchase of the up to 400 million J&J doses negotiated by the Africa Center for Disease Control and the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT).  The World Bank is finalizing the details now with the African Union and AVATT, building on its deep partnership with the Africa CDC that began 2 years ago – before the pandemic – with an IDA grant and technical assistance.  To enable doses to be delivered and deployed, World Bank financing for 27 African countries is already in place.  Much more will follow over the coming weeks, with requests from a total of 41 African countries received for World Bank vaccine financing.  We are also delighted to be in partnership with UNICEF, which yesterday signed an Operational Framework Agreement with J&J’s Janssen to be the procurement agency responsible for the delivery of vaccine doses purchased through AVATT.  The World Bank is working closely with UNICEF to ensure that the supply contracts with our member countries are finalized rapidly so that vaccines can be made available as soon as possible.

Fourth, and lastly, in view of the surging demand for World Bank vaccine finance, I am pleased to announce today that the World Bank is expanding its financing available for COVID-19 vaccine financing to $20 billion over the next 18 months, adding $8 billion to the previously announced $12 billion.  We now call on countries with surplus doses to release these for use by developing countries, and for vaccine manufacturers to prioritize the available doses for the developing countries that so urgently need them.

Together, the action announced today on vaccine production, deployment, and financing, will save lives now, boost economic recovery and help ensure that people in developing countries have a chance to prosper and live their lives with confidence.

RELATED: World Bank Financing for COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Exceeds $4 Billion for 50 Countries