USD$8 million for Samoan vaccine rollout
Samoa is among four Pacific Island nations to benefit from USD$18.9 million in grants from the Asian Development Bank (A.D.B.) to assist in rolling out more COVID-19 vaccines.
The Manila-based regional development bank announced that a total of USD$8 million (over WST$20 million-plus tala) has been approved for Samoa; USD$5.5 million for Tonga; USD$1.5 million for Tuvalu; and US$3.9 million for Vanuatu, it announced on Monday.
The financial assistance is expected to support the Pacific nations' COVID-19 vaccination programmes and their combined populations of 600,000 people.
According to a statement, the project financing will be drawn from the A.D.B.’s $9 billion Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility that was launched in December 2020. The facility was established to offer rapid and equitable vaccine-related support to the bank's developing member countries.
A.D.B. President Masatsugu Asakawa said the four Pacific nations have incurred "considerable costs" in preventing COVID-19 transmission and their health systems have been put under extreme pressure.
The grants are designed to bolster their operations.
"These grants will provide a platform to introduce safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines in these countries, strengthen health systems to receive and administer the vaccines, and raise community awareness about vaccination timetables,” he said.
According to a World Health Organisation COVID-19 tracking website, Samoa has had one confirmed case; Vanuatu three confirmed while Tuvalu and Tonga have not recorded a confirmed case yet.
Earlier this month, Samoa joined Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Nauru and Tuvalu, in the Pacific islands, to receive COVID-19 vaccine doses shipped via the World Bank managed COVAX Facility.
The arrival early this month of 24,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca in Apia marked the sixth batch of vaccines to arrive in the Pacific region via the facility.
The public rollout of the vaccine started in the Vaimauga district on Monday.
As of March 2021, the A.D.B. had committed more than $750 million, including in co-financing and technical assistance, to support Pacific countries respond to the pandemic.
Last July, the A.D.B. pledged a $20 million grant to help the Government of Samoa respond to the coronavirus [COVID-19] global pandemic.
In August, the Government signed documents to access a $1.5 million grant from the Asian Development Bank [A.D.B.] to help fund the country’s response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
In December, the A.D.B. said it had established a USD$9 billion (WST$22.9 billion) facility to help member countries such as Samoa access and distribute COVID-19 vaccines through their Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility (A.P.V.A.X.).