A TOTAL of 4.73 million coronavirus vaccine doses procured under a World Bank loan have arrived in the Philippines, the bank said.

Over eight million doses are set to arrive by year’s end to bring the total to about 13 million doses, which were procured via the $500-million COVID-19 Emergency Response Project Additional Financing facility.

The facility had been approved in March.

“In addition to the purchase of vaccines, the additional financing also supports the Philippines’ efforts to implement public health measures including increasing testing and improving isolation capacity,” the World Bank said in a statement Tuesday.

It extends the ongoing emergency response project approved in April last year to fund coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing and medical equipment. The fund has also been used to refurbish quarantine facilities.

“The World Bank is pleased to contribute to the Philippines’ national COVID-19 vaccination effort so that more Filipinos are protected against COVID-19, can resume normal lives, and the country can rebuild the economy faster, restore jobs and incomes, and ensure its resilient recovery,” World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand Ndiame Diop said.

Under 23% of the Philippine population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. The government plans to fully vaccinate 70% of the population by February.

The Department of Finance (DoF) has said that the government is in talks with the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB), and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) for $900 million (P45.6 billion) worth of loans for COVID-19 booster shots.

The DoF said the ADB and AIIB deals could be signed before the year ends, while the World Bank deal could be signed by December or early January. In the meantime, the government plans to use the balance from the earlier agreement with the World Bank. — Jenina P. Ibañez