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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the government of Bangladesh on Tuesday signed an agreement for $3 million in grant for procuring urgent medical supplies including vaccine for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The government of Japan is financing the grant assistance sourced from the ADB-administered Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund, said an ADB press release.

Fatima Yasmin, secretary of the Economic Relations Division (ERD), and Manmohan Parkash, country director of ADB, virtually signed the grant agreement on behalf of Bangladesh and ADB, respectively, reports news agency BSS.

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“We are very pleased to provide this grant assistance that can be used to procure COVID-19 vaccine, which is under development, and the government is trying to source it at the earliest for the people of Bangladesh,” said Manmohan Parkash.

The new assistance builds on ADB’s previous support of around $603 million in loans and grants to contain and mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh

“While the COVID-19 pandemic remains under control, providing vaccine to the people is an urgent priority to tame the disease for resuming economic activities in full swing.” he added.

Parkash also said, “We are closely working with the government to minimise the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and help accelerate the post-pandemic socio-economic recovery of the country.”

The new assistance builds on ADB’s previous support of around $603 million in loans and grants to contain and mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh.

ADB on 7 May approved $500 million loan to bolster the efforts of the Bangladesh government to manage the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country’s economy and the public health.

Earlier, on 30 April, ADB approved a $100 million concessional emergency loan to support Bangladesh’s efforts to address the immediate public health requirements of combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

ADB also released a $350,000 emergency grant for the procurement of medical supplies and equipment, and $1.3 million from an existing project to provide one-time cash support to 22,619 trainees to enable them to continue their ongoing skills training programme.

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In addition, $231,178 in grant was provided to augment COVID-19 related facilities in 134 urban primary healthcare centers, also called Nogor Swastho Kendro, across the country.

Since February, ADB’s emergency assistance grants to its developing members have helped ensure the supply of essential medicines and personal protective equipment.

In April, ADB announced a $20 billion comprehensive response package to help its developing member countries address the immediate and long-term macroeconomic and health impacts of COVID-19 in the region.

In its 47-year-long partnership with Bangladesh, ADB has mobilised over $36.6 billion in loans and grants, including co-financing, to help bring better infrastructure, public services, and social development outcomes to the people of Bangladesh.

ADB’s current sovereign portfolio in Bangladesh has 49 projects with around $11 billion.