COVID-19: World Bank provides USD 80 mn to Sri Lanka for vaccines

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Colombo, Apr 29 (PTI) The World Bank on Thursday announced a USD 80.5 million credit for Sri Lanka to help it purchase vaccines for fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Washington-based global financial institution said that the new financing will help purchase vaccines to cover approximately 4 million people.

In addition, it will cover the costs of deploying safe and effective vaccines to 20 per cent of Sri Lanka’s population to meet the target of vaccinating at least 60 per cent of its population, the World Bank said in a statement.

“Sri Lanka has demonstrated resilience in the implementation of its test, trace and treat pandemic management strategy, which has relied on its well-established public healthcare system,” said Faris Hadad-Zervos, World Bank Country Director for the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

“To recover from the pandemic-induced impacts, Sri Lanka needs sustainable financing mechanisms to further strengthen and equip its healthcare system to protect its population through improved vaccination programmes and curative and preventive healthcare,” the official said.

The financing came as Sri Lanka began rolling out the second phase of inoculation on Wednesday amidst an unprecedented spike in fresh cases.

The daily number of new COVID-19 cases crossed the 1,000-mark for the second day on Wednesday, as authorities claimed that the fast spreading UK variant had hit the island as evident by samples researched.

Since late January, Sri Lanka has so far immunised 925,242 people out of its 21 million population.

This was made possible by the 500,000 free Covishield doses from India, through the COVAX facility and a subsequent purchase from the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s biggest vaccine producer.

Health officials have claimed that the programme for the second jab had hit a snag due to a delay of supply by the SII. PTI CORR CPS