Coronavirus-hit Afghanistan gets $200 million World Bank grant

Firefighters spray disinfectant on a street as a preventive measure against the spread of coronavirus in Kabul on June 18, 2020. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 10 July 2020

Coronavirus-hit Afghanistan gets $200 million World Bank grant

  • Country’s war-ravaged economy has been severely impacted due to a months-long lockdown
  • Virus first spread to Afghanistan as infected migrants returned from neighboring Iran

KABUL: The World Bank has approved $200 million in aid to help Afghanistan tackle economic losses from the coronavirus pandemic, as confirmed cases top more than 34,000 in the conflict zone.
The country’s war-ravaged economy has been severely impacted due to a months-long lockdown, with thousands of people losing their jobs in the economic fallout.
Afghanistan has also grappled with increased militant violence in recent months that has diverted vital attention and resources away from the fight against the disease.
“The program will provide vital fiscal resources to manage the impacts of the pandemic in the context of rapidly slowing economic growth and declining government revenues,” Henry Kerali, the World Bank head for Afghanistan said in a statement on Thursday.
Afghanistan has so far declared just over 34,000 cases of COVID-19, with nearly 1,000 deaths.
“In the cities, the cases are steady but we are worried the cases may spread in rural areas,” Abdul Qadir, a senior official at the health ministry told AFP on Friday.
Qadir said the World Bank funds will be used to help mitigate the impact on health care, social and business sectors.
The virus first spread to Afghanistan as infected migrants returned from neighboring Iran, the region’s worst-hit country.


US to pay over $1 bn for 100 mln doses of J&J’s potential COVID-19 vaccine

Updated 05 August 2020

US to pay over $1 bn for 100 mln doses of J&J’s potential COVID-19 vaccine

  • The latest contract equates to roughly $10 per vaccine dose produced by J&J
  • This is J&J’s first deal to supply its investigational vaccine to a country

WASHINGTON: The United States government will pay Johnson & Johnson over $1 billion for 100 million doses of its potential coronavirus vaccine, its latest such arrangement as the race to tame the pandemic intensifies, the drugmaker said on Wednesday.
It said it would deliver the vaccine to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) on a not-for-profit basis to be used after approval or emergency use authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
J&J has already received $1 billion in funding from the US government — BARDA agreed in March to provide that money for the company to build manufacturing capacity for more than 1 billion doses of the experimental vaccine.
The latest contract equates to roughly $10 per vaccine dose produced by J&J. Including the first $1 billion deal with the USgovernment, the price would be slightly higher than the $19.50 per dose that the United States is paying for the vaccine being developed by Pfizer Inc. and German biotech BioNTech SE.
The US government may also purchase an additional 200 million doses under a subsequent agreement. J&J did not disclose that deal’s value.
J&J plans to study a one- or two-dose regimen of the vaccine in parallel later this year. A single-shot regimen could allow more people to be vaccinated with the same number of doses and would sidestep issues around getting people to come back for their second dose.
This is J&J’s first deal to supply its investigational vaccine to a country. Talks are underway with the European Union, but no deal has yet been reached.
J&J’s investigational vaccine is currently being tested on healthy volunteers in the United States and Belgium in an early-stage study.
There are currently no approved vaccines for COVID-19. More than 20 are in clinical trials.