MANILA, PHILIPPINES (28 May 2021) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) today approved a loan package of $19 million for Mongolia to purchase safe and effective vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The project is part of ADB’s $9 billion Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility (APVAX), which was launched in December 2020 to offer rapid and equitable vaccine-related support to ADB’s developing member countries.
“COVID-19 has caused considerable disruption to Mongolia’s health, well-being, and economy,” said ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa. “ADB’s APVAX support will provide the Government of Mongolia with immediate and flexible financing to vaccinate priority populations, especially those at highest risk from infection, to reduce the impacts of the disease and help put the country on a path to sustained recovery.”
As COVID-19 emerged at the start of 2020, Mongolia responded quickly to avoid the rapid spread of the disease. However, community transmission emerged in November 2020, straining the health system’s capacity. The economy was hard hit, shrinking by 5.3% in 2020, with official job losses reaching 63,900 or 5.4% of total employment. It is expected that COVID-19 will significantly increase the poverty rate from its level of 28.4% in 2018.
Women in Mongolia have been disproportionally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as they comprise 82% of frontline health workers and have a higher risk of exposure. In addition, the crisis has led to increased gender-based violence, with the number of calls to hotlines and women requiring shelter services rising significantly.
The Support for COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery in Mongolia under APVAX will procure vaccines to contribute to the government’s efforts to immunize at least 30% of the population, representing priority populations as defined under Mongolia’s National Deployment and Vaccination Plan. These include individuals at high risk of death from COVID-19 infection and about 200,000 frontline workers. In addition, people with disabilities, those who suffer from chronic diseases, and vulnerable groups requiring social assistance will benefit from the vaccine rollout.
The total cost of the APVAX project is $43.82 million, with ADB providing an ordinary loan and a concessional loan of $9.5 million each. ADB Country Director for Mongolia Pavit Ramachandran and Mongolia’s Minister of Finance and ADB Governor Javkhlan Bold signed the loan agreements immediately after the project approval. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank plans to provide cofinancing of $21 million and the government will contribute $3.82 million.
The APVAX project is part of multifaceted and comprehensive support to Mongolia from ADB in response to COVID-19 and builds on ADB’s long track record of assistance to Mongolia’s health system, which includes 7 loans, 10 grants, and 19 technical assistance projects since 1993.
ADB is processing a complementary $5 million grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction to build capacity for COVID-19 vaccine delivery, including equipment for diagnostics and laboratories.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.