Georgia’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts will gain a major boost thanks to $34.5 million in additional financing approved on June 7 by the World Bank. This financing augments the original $80 million Georgia Emergency COVID-19 Response Project, approved in March 2020 with the purpose of helping Georgia address and mitigate the health and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The primary objectives of the Additional Financing are to enable affordable and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, help ensure effective vaccine deployment in Georgia by strengthening the vaccination system, and further boost preparedness and response activities under the parent project. Through this support, the Bank will contribute to the Government’s plan to vaccinate 60% of the adult population in 2021.
“The World Bank was one of the first international financial institutions to extend support to Georgia, right at the onset of the crisis, through the Emergency COVID-19 Response Project, and now, with this Additional Financing, we will be supporting the Government in rolling out its Vaccination Plan,” said Sebastian Molineus, World Bank Regional Director for the South Caucasus. “The pandemic has placed a great burden on the country’s economy, its people and firms first and foremost, and a strong vaccination plan is crucial for a fast and resilient recovery in Georgia, and most importantly, for saving lives.”
Specifically, the Additional Financing will support the costs of expanding activities of the Georgia Emergency COVID-19 Response Project, under the Bank’s COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Program. It will help the acquisition and deployment of eligible COVID-19 vaccines, including syringes and other supplies, vaccine logistics and distribution, planning and management, vaccine-related communication and outreach, training, and overall health system strengthening.
“The additional $34.5 million allocated to Georgia by the World Bank acquires even higher significance in the context of a global pandemic, when an improvement of healthcare systems, immunization, and targeted social assistance becomes of greater importance,” said Lasha Khutsishvili, Minister of Finance of Georgia. “Georgia was among the first countries in the world to receive rapid financial support, in the amount of $80 million, from the World Bank at the beginning of the pandemic and it played a vital role in supporting the citizens of our country. Once again, I wish to express my gratitude to our partners for every endeavor taken together with us in the fight against COVID-19.”
Over the past year, through the parent Emergency COVID-19 Response Project, the World Bank has been helping Georgia to prevent, detect and respond to the threats posed by the pandemic, and provide immediate social protection support to the most vulnerable. For example, the project has assisted the Health Ministry in procurement of vital medical equipment, including over 4 million PCR Rapid Tests and Extraction Kits, over 1,000 Oxygen Therapy Equipment-Concentrators, High Flow and Critical Care and Emergency Ventilators, as well as ICU beds, over 11 million Personal Protection Equipment, and other essential items.
In addition, the project has played a significant role in the development of diagnostic capabilities of Healthcare Facilities through equipping them with cutting-edge technologies. Moreover, the project has also contributed to the Government’s social support package, which provided temporary monthly benefits to over 80,000 families, top-up benefits to about 25,000 families with more than 3 children, one-off benefits to over 370,000 self-employed individuals and temporary unemployment benefits to over 160,000 individuals.
“The World Bank’s support has been essential in the fight against the coronavirus. With the Bank’s assistance, we were able to rapidly readjust and address the pandemic’s impact more quickly and efficiently. Today we have in our hands the main tool to end the pandemic – vaccines. And with the help of the World Bank, we will be able to better administer the vaccination process,” said Ekaterine Tikaradze, Minister of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia. “As our valued partner, I would like to once again thank the World Bank for the integral role it is playing in helping our country fight the pandemic.”
The Additional Financing, as well as its parent Project, are a part of the World Bank’s robust financial support package for Georgia, which also includes the recently signed EUR 85 million Relief and Recovery for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Project, aimed at helping micro, small and medium-sized firms that were hit hardest by the pandemic; and also the EUR 45 million Supplemental Economic Management and Competitiveness Development Policy Operation, which provided budget support to the Government amidst a sharp decline in tax revenues and an increase in expenditures for anti-crisis measures to safeguard progress on reforms supportive of the long-term growth agenda.