Africa needs £9bn to buy enough vaccines to stop Covid-19 spread, say World Bank and IMF

Africa needs around £9bn ($12bn) to buy and distribute Covid-19 vaccines to reach enough people to stop the coronavirus spreading, according to a new paper by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The world’s rich G20 countries should also extend a debt moratorium until the end of the year to help the poorest countries through the pandemic, the paper said.

The money needed by Africa roughly is roughly the same as debt repayments already deferred by 45 of the poorest countries, the bodies said.

Meanwhile a new Rockefeller Foundation report found that moves to bolster the IMF’s emergency reserves could provide billions for poor countries to vaccinate, at no added cost to rich countries.

G20 finance officials are expected to back a £470bn ($650bn) new allocation of the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights (SDR) this week to help countries cope with the pandemic and its economic fallout.

The rights are an asset issued by the IMF to boost the reserves and increase the spending power of vulnerable countries. All countries, rich or poor, will receive their own batch of new rights, in the first such allocation since the financial crisis of the late Noughties. Yet the report said rich countries could reallocate their tranche to quickly close the vaccine funding gap.

Such a scheme could provide the $44 billion needed to vaccinate 70 per cent of the population in lower- and middle-income countries by the end of 2022.

Rich and middle-income countries accounted for 86 per cent of Covid-19 jabs given last month and there is a growing gap in vaccination and economic recovery between rich and poor countries.

While the US, Europe and the UK are currently focussed on vaccinating their own populations public health experts warn that the risk of new variants arising wherever the coronavirus is rampant, mean no country is safe until the whole world is vaccinated.

On Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was aware there was “growing desperation” for vaccine from large parts of the world. He said the United States would work with global partners on manufacturing vaccines to ensure there will be enough “for everyone, everywhere.”

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