World Bank hopes to help get vaccines to 1 billion people, Malpass says

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David Malpass, president at the World Bank. Photo by: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

NEW DELHI — Providing fair and equitable access to vaccines will be key to managing the health and economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, World Bank President David Malpass told Devex in an interview at Devex World.

Speaking about the efforts of the bank until now and plans for the months to come, Malpass said the focus will be to provide vaccines to people who don’t have any other way to get them.

“We’re hoping, by the end, to have vaccinated a billion people. So that will help with the economies — because COVID still hangs over the economic outlook,” he said.

Hoping that the vaccine rollout programs can begin in early 2021, Malpass outlined some challenges that he could foresee.

“There are quite a few steps. One is the logistics itself — so the cold chain and how you deliver it. Once you’ve started a vaccination program, what are the controls in terms of who gets it and whether you keep records of the delivery mechanisms — those are all technical challenges. And there’s also the communications issue of encouraging people with regard to the safety of the vaccine that the country has chosen,” he said.

The bank is currently working on capacity assessments with countries, which will be followed by specific operations that will help countries finance the distribution chain and the mechanisms to conduct the vaccination programs, he said.

In October, the World Bank announced a $12 billion fund for low-income countries to finance the purchase and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments for their citizens.

About the author

  • Amruta Byatnal

    Amruta Byatnal is an Associate Editor at Devex based in New Delhi. She reports on global health, gender and human rights. Previously, she worked for News Deeply and The Hindu. She is a graduate of Cornell University where she studied international development.