May 29, 2022, 5:17 pm

Staff Correspondent

2022-01-11 10:11:27 BdST

BD to approach ADB for $940m in fresh aid

The government is trying to get another big chunk of US$940 million in aid package from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for purchasing Covid-19 shots to be used as booster doses, officials said on Monday.

Besides, it requires the money to set up a vaccine plant in Gopalganj with sophisticated facilities for producing the jab inside the country.

Earlier, in June last year, the Manila-based lender confirmed another $940 million worth of loans to the government for procuring coronavirus vaccines and upgrading the country's health services amid the massive pandemic.

The ADB has disbursed almost all the funds for procuring the vaccine, said officials of the Economic Relations Division (ERD).

"With the support of the fresh $940 million loan, the government has planned to set up a well-equipped manufacturing unit so that it can produce any types of vaccines in addition to the coronavirus jabs in the future days," said an additional secretary at the ERD.

"We are discussing with the ADB for getting the aid package to boost up Bangladesh's vaccine production, its supply and management system," he said.

As long as Bangladesh needs to procure more Covid vaccines for completing all doses including the booster ones to all eligible citizens and produce different types of vaccines like polio, measles, typhoid, etc in the future days, the country needs a permanent production plant, said the ERD official.

Bangladesh's nearly 70 percent population is yet to come under full Covid vaccination coverage.

The country's 79.24 million or 46 percent of the total population has received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, 54.86 million or 32.3 percent two doses, and 0.488 million booster doses till January 9, health directorate data showed.

Another ERD official said if they could confirm the ADB's $940 million aid package afresh, the government would invest some $500 million assistance for setting up a vaccine production plant.

And the rest of the amount would be utilised to procure the vaccines to be inoculated as booster doses to the eligible persons, he said.

The Essential Drug Company Limited (EDCL), a government-owned pharmaceutical company in Bangladesh, will set up the vaccine plant at Gopalganj.

The ERD additional secretary said they had held an inter-ministerial meeting last month and had requested the health ministry to formulate the expenditure plan of the proposed $940 million funds.

After finalising the expenditure plan, the documents would be shared with the ADB for negotiations, he added.

Headed by the ERD secretary, the last inter-ministerial meeting was attended by the finance secretary, health secretary and other officials concerned.

The ADB is expected to provide the proposed $940 million loan as a budget support so that the health ministry can use it during its necessity, added the top official of the ERD.

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