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India seeks vaccine loans from ADB

The Government of India has applied for loans from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to procure as many as 667 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

The Manila-based ADB, in which the U.S. and Japan are the biggest shareholders, and the Beijing-based AIIB, where China and India are the biggest shareholders, are in the process of considering the loans.

The ADB is expected to lend $1.5 billion and the AIIB around $500 million for the vaccine purchase by the Government of India, which has been made under the ADB’s Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility (APVAX) initiative.

Launched in December 2020, APVAX offers “rapid and equitable support to its developing member countries as they procure and deliver effective and safe COVID-19 vaccines”.

The 667 million doses will, however, have to be vaccines qualified by the World Health Organization (WHO). Covishield is among those vaccines, but Covaxin is still awaiting the green light with a final assessment scheduled for November 3.

According to the ADB, for a vaccine to be eligible for financing, it must “be procured via COVAX [the global vaccine access initiative], prequalified by WHO, or authorised by a Stringent Regulatory Authority”, which, according to the WHO, does not include India’s health authorities.

The Beijing-headquartered AIIB will co-finance the vaccine procurement. The bank said that this week, a number of loans were being considered for projects in India, including another loan for the next phase of the Chennai Metro rail system. Earlier this month, the AIIB had already approved a $356.7 million loan to the Government of India for the construction of a new corridor as part of Chennai Metro’s phase two.

So far, the AIIB has approved loans for 28 projects in India amounting to $6.7 billion, more than for any other member of the multilateral bank, which was launched in Beijing in 2015. India is the second-largest shareholder after China in the bank, which does not count the U.S. and Japan among its members. The Hindu