Staff reporter 

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a USD 10 million (M) loan to help Bhutan to purchase safe and effective vaccines against Covid-19.

According to a press release from the bank, the loan will finance the purchase of at least 1.28M doses of Covid-19 vaccines which are expected to support Bhutan achieve its 100 percent vaccine coverage target by 2024.

“Vaccines will immunise at least 90 percent of children aged 5 to 11 to cover the initial two-dose schedule and the additional doses for the entire eligible population,” the press release stated.

ADB’s Country Director for Bhutan, Shamit Chakravarti said that the ADB remains committed to supporting Bhutan in its efforts to manage the pandemic and to fully carry out its National Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment Plan. “The administration of booster and paediatric vaccine doses will protect the entire eligible population against waning immunity and ensure that Bhutan’s economic recovery is sustainable and inclusive.”

The project is part of ADB’s USD 9 billion Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility (APVAX) launched in December 2020 to offer vaccine-related support to ADB’s developing member countries.

The ADB will also administer a USD 3M grant from the Japan Fund for Prosperous and Resilient Asia and the Pacific (JFPR) to help improve access to primary health care services, including Covid-19 vaccination and routine immunization, in remote areas through the purchase and deployment of mobile medical unit vehicles.

The grant will be utilised to train medical personnel to help strengthen outreach health care service delivery and biomedical waste management.

Also, it will help the government maintain the current level of Covid-19 disease surveillance capacity to address new Covid-19 variants and ensure the safety of health care personnel involved in Covid-19 care service by providing medical and laboratory equipment and supplies, test kits, reagents, and personal protective equipment.

The loan and grant agreements were signed between the finance minister, Namgay Tshering, and ADB’s Country Director, Shamit Chakravarti yesterday.