MANILA -- The Asian Development Bank on Friday launched a $9-billion coronavirus vaccine fund for member economies, many of which have been ravaged by the pandemic.
Called Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility, the bank said that the initiative offers rapid and equitable support to its developing members as they procure and deliver COVID-19 vaccines, which are crucial for economic recovery.
The facility will be a welcome financial lifeline for economies in the region, which is projected to contract 0.4% this year, as the pandemic reverses nearly six decades of growth.
More than 14.3 million coronavirus cases and over 200,000 fatalities have been recorded in Asia and the Pacific, according to the ADB.
"As ADB's developing members prepare to vaccinate their people as soon as possible, they need financing to procure vaccines as well as appropriate plans and knowledge to be able to safely, equitably, and efficiently manage the vaccination process," ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa said in a statement.
"[Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility] will play a critical role in helping our developing members meet these challenges, overcome the pandemic, and focus on economic recovery," Asakawa said.
Countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines, which have among the highest coronavirus cases in the region, have placed orders from vaccine developers including China's Sinovac Biotech and the U.K.'s AstraZeneca in hopes of kick-starting economic recovery.
The ADB in April approved a $20 billion package to help its developing members survive the COVID-19 crisis. That facility is focused on supporting government expenditure programs and financing for private companies.