The World Bank has approved a 454.4 million euro ($474.4 million) loan to help South Africa fund COVID-19 vaccine purchases, the bank and South Africa’s national treasury said in a statement.
South Africa has recorded the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths on the African continent, with more than 3.9 million confirmed cases and more than 101,000 deaths.
It initially struggled to source vaccines due to limited supplies and lengthy negotiations, but is now well supplied with doses.
“This project will retroactively fund the procurement of 47 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine by GoSA (Government of South Africa),” the statement said.
The loan is part of the government’s effort to bring down debt-servicing costs by using cheaper sources of finance in response to the pandemic, said Ismail Momoniat, acting director-general of the Treasury.
As of Monday, just over 50 percent of South Africa’s roughly 40 million adult population had received at least one dose of the vaccine. In recent months, the vaccination campaign has slowed despite efforts to encourage uptake.
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