Rwanda's Covid-19 Vaccination Drive Gets U.S.$30 Million World Bank Boost

The World Bank's Board of Executive Directors has approved a $30 million (about Rwf30 billion) in additional financing to Rwanda for the acquisition and deployment of safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines.

The decision was announced by bank in a statement it issued on Friday, April 16.

This is the second financing for the Rwanda Covid-19 Emergency Response Project, bringing a total of $45.19 million in World Bank contributions to the country's national Covid-19 health response and vaccination campaign.

It comes to help Rwanda finance its anti-Covid-19 vaccination effort which could cost up to about $120 million with short term costs standing at $47 million, according to estimates from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

Rolande Pryce, the World Bank Group Country Manager for Rwanda said that since the inception of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government of Rwanda has acted swiftly and decisively to save lives and mitigate the economic impact of the crisis with strong results on the ground.

"The World Bank is pleased to support the government, in collaboration with other development partners, to undertake one of the boldest public health campaigns of our times that aims to vaccinate 60 percent of the population by 2022," Pryce said.

"The vaccination programme is a central piece of the government's comprehensive plan to save lives and facilitate full reopening of the economy, putting the country back on a path towards more inclusive and sustainable growth. We are privileged to partner in this effort," she indicated.

The financing will also go towards enhancing development effectiveness by addressing emerging needs, such as improving access to oxygen therapy, screening for underlying chronic conditions and protecting essential health services.

It will bolster the capacity of the routine immunisation system through investments in human resources, vaccine safety and monitoring as well as outreach activities and communications to sustain vaccine acceptance and uptake.

Supporting the return to normalcy 777

Rwanda's vaccination drive against Covid-19 kicked off in February this year. By March 23, 348,629 people had received at least one dose of anti-Covid-19 vaccine as the country wound up the first phase of the campaign and embarked on the second.

The country targets to have inoculated 7.8 million people, representing 60 per cent of its population by June next year in order to achieve herd immunity.

Also known as population immunity, herd immunity is the indirect protection from an infectious disease that happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or immunity developed through previous infection, but the former is preferable.

To immunise 7.8 million people against Covid-19 would require Rwanda to administer 15.6 million doses of vaccines in case they are two-dose jabs, but that number would reduce when single-dose shots are factored in.

Meanwhile, with Covax expected to avail about 1.2 million vaccine doses to Rwanda, the country will need to acquire more doses to realise the targets to inoculate 60 per cent of the population.

Rwanda also secured an additional 2.6 million doses from AU's Union's African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT).

It is to note that the World Bank also mobilised a $15 million grant from the Global Financing Facility to support and protect essential health and nutrition services which remain vulnerable to shocks during the ongoing pandemic.

Once approved, the Bank said, the grant will complement Rwanda's ongoing covid-19 response, and ensure that decades of progress in strengthening the health system will not be undermined by the pandemic.

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