In a joint statement, the World Bank and South Africa’s National Treasury announced that a loan of 454.4 million euros ($474.4 million) had been granted to help South Africa fund COVID-19 vaccine supplies.
With over 3.9 million verified cases and more than 101,000 deaths, South Africa leads the African continent in coronavirus cases and deaths. Due to restricted supply and lengthy negotiations, it initially had difficulty obtaining vaccines, but it is currently well-stocked.
“This project will retroactively finance the procurement of 47 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by the GoSA (Government of South Africa),” the statement said.
The loan is part of government efforts to cut debt-service costs by using cheaper funding sources in its response to the pandemic, Ismail Momoniat, acting director-general of the Treasury said.
As of Monday, just over 50% of South Africa’s adult population of around 40 million people had received at least one vaccine dose. In recent months the vaccination campaign has slowed, despite efforts to boost takeup.