Well into the second half of 2021, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has continued to spread, with the disease itself greatly impacting health across Asia and the Pacific and disrupting economic activities. In the face of this, ADB’s committed assistance to help its developing member countries address the pandemic surpassed in August 2021 the $20 billion mark.
“ADB’s vision under Strategy 2030 is to continue our efforts to eradicate extreme poverty and to achieve a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific,” says Director General of the Strategy, Policy, and Partnerships Department (SPD) Tomoyuki Kimura. “The devastating human, social, and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have greatly increased this challenge while reinforcing the relevance of Strategy 2030.”
ADB is adapting to the changing circumstances in Asia and the Pacific, working together with its developing member countries to rebuild for a long-lasting recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
From the earliest stages of the pandemic, ADB began providing grants and technical assistance to support its developing member countries in addressing the urgent health crisis, including procuring ventilators, test kits, and personal protective equipment, as well as shoring up straining health services.
The scale and comprehensiveness of ADB’s COVID-19 response created a range of institutional challenges. These included a need to be more flexible in re-allocating staff resources, reprogramming resources toward COVID-19 response initiatives, and mobilizing the necessary information technology infrastructure to respond.
“Since early in 2020, ADB staff have been working round the clock from different time zones in an extremely challenging environment,” Mr. Kimura adds.
In April 2020 announced a comprehensive $20 billion package of support along with various measures to streamline its operations for quicker and more flexible assistance.
As part of the package, ADB established a new financing modality called the COVID-19 Pandemic Response Option (CPRO). Through this, ADB has provided quick-disbursing support to help governments finance their countercyclical economic stimulus packages focusing on the poor and vulnerable as well as women and children.
ADB’s priority is to help its developing member countries transition toward a green, resilient, and inclusive recovery. A critical part is to facilitate their access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines
By the end of 2020, ADB had committed about $16.3 billion in financial and technical assistance (TA) resources, including CPRO operations totaling $10.2 billion in 26 developing member countries.
ADB has also been supporting the private sector by helping companies continue to operate, deliver essential services, and keep workers employed.
“ADB’s priority now is to help our developing member countries transition toward a green, resilient, and inclusive recovery. A critical part of our support is to facilitate their access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines,” says Director General of ADB’s Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department Bruno Carrasco. “Containing the spread of the virus in Asia and the Pacific will have a significant impact on the global fight against COVID-19. It will also help re-energize all economies through renewed regional and global trade.”
To this end, in December 2020, ADB launched its $9 billion Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility (APVAX) to support developing member countries in procuring and delivering safe and effective vaccines as swiftly and equitably as possible.
ADB's $9 billion COVID-19 vaccine initiative, the Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility, or APVAX, will provide a comprehensive program to support developing Asia and the Pacific’s vaccine process.
As of 10 September 2021, ADB had committed a total of $20.8 billion to the COVID-19 response including vaccination support in its developing member countries. Of this, assistance to the private sector totals $4.9 billion. Under APVAX, ADB has committed a total of $2.3 billion. ADB staff are closely working with government officials in other developing member countries interested in tapping the facility. Cofinancing from development partners for ADB’s COVID-19 operations has amounted to an additional $15.4 billion.
“While planning for the recovery is important, ADB must also recognize that the nature of the crisis is unprecedented and that beyond the short-term health and economic shocks, the long-term effects on human capital, productivity and behavior may be long-lasting,” says Mr. Carrasco. “ADB will continue to be agile and forward looking in offering tailored solutions for its developing member countries as the crisis continues to unfold and beyond.”
This article was written by Graham Dwyer, Principal Communications Specialist at ADB's Department of Communications.