MONROVIA – The World Bank has approved additional financing to the Liberia COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response Project to enable affordable and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
The financing, in the total amount of $8 million grant ($7 million International Development Association-IDA and $1 million Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Multi-Donor Trust), will support the purchase of vaccines and their deployment, reaching approximately 386,000 people, the World Bank said in a dispatch from Washington D.C.
The grant approval by the World Bank comes in the wake of the acute shortage of COVID-19 vaccines in the country and a surge in cases.
The resources, the Bank noted, will also help strengthen systems of vaccination programs more broadly and support other COVID-19 response activities.
“In the wake of a third Covid-19 wave that is more devastating than the first two, we believe that ramping up the vaccination program in Liberia, as in other countries, will be a game changer,” said Dr. Khwima Nthara, World Bank Country Manager in Liberia. “Hope people will take full advantage of this opportunity and get vaccinated to protect themselves and their loved ones.
Under the original project that was approved on April 9, 2020, the World Bank has supported Liberia to purchase 10 ambulances, 20 ventilators, 120 motorcycles, diagnostic laboratory equipment, and also supported counties in implementing COVID-19 preventive measures.
This Additional Financing has become necessary given the evidence from the west on impact of vaccines on disease transmission and bringing the COVID-19 situation back to normal, it added, stating that the Bank’s financed vaccines will contribute to increasing the number of Liberians covered by vaccines. In addition, the project will support roll out of the vaccines to the last mile and including support to intervention started under the parent project, Liberia COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response Project.
“The financing for Liberia comes at a time when there is a rise in new cases and full blown third wave making the need for vaccines as an added intervention more critical,” said Co-Task Team Leaders Noel Chisaka, Anthony Theophilus Seddoh and Opope Oyaka Tshivuila Matala.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank Group has committed over $125 billion to fight the health, economic, and social impacts of the pandemic, the fastest and largest crisis response in its history.
The financing is helping more than 100 countries strengthen pandemic preparedness, protect the poor and jobs, and jump start a climate-friendly recovery. The Bank is also providing $12 billion to help low- and middle-income countries purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments, the release stated.
The latest package for Liberia will bring great relief to health authorities who are battling the upsurge of COVID-19 amid shortage of the vaccines and the discovery of the Delta variant of the deadly virus.
The Director of Communications of the Incident Management System, Mr. Chester Smith told FrontPage Africa that although vaccines are still around and being administered, they are in limited supply.
Delta, formerly known as B.1.617.2, is believed to be the most transmissible variant yet, spreading more easily than both the original strain of the virus and the Alpha variant first identified in Britain. Public health officials there have said that Delta could be 50 percent more contagious than Alpha, though precise estimates of its infectiousness vary.
The precarious situation has led the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to raise Liberia’s travel alert to level 4; indicating that the country is highly unsafe for inbound travelers. The CDC has admonished U.S. citizens not to travel to Liberia and if they should, they must be vaccinated before coming.
Covid-19 Level 4 is the highest risk level as per the Centers for Disease Control’s ranking.