The World Bank (WB) and the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) on Thursday signed an agreement for more than US$6.2 million in grants provided to enhance Vietnam's surveillance and testing capacities during the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The signing ceremony of the grant agreement took place in Hanoi between representatives from the WB and Vietnamese central bank.
“The COVID-19 situation in Vietnam is evolving quickly,” Stefanie Stallmeister, acting country director for the WB in Vietnam, was quoted as saying at the event in a WB press release.
“This emergency operation will not only support the government to quickly monitor and respond to COVID-19 but also contribute to building a resilient health system for future health emergencies,” she said.
The Vietnam COVID-19 emergency response project is granted by the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) through its insurance window allocation to Vietnam.
PEF is a financing mechanism housed at the World Bank to provide an additional source of financing to help some countries deal with large-scale outbreaks.
According to the SBV, the project would strengthen the capacities of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE) and other testing laboratories nationwide, which is important now to improve the capability in the judgment of herd immunity against the COVID-19 pandemic.
One part of the grant will also be used for adding more medical equipment to the Center for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals (POLYVAC).
The project is also going to support 200 laboratories involved in the process of COVID-19 surveillance and testing in hospitals and provincial Centers for Disease Control across the country.
In addition to that, the WB grant will support Vietnam's efforts in the research and production of vaccines. This is expected to improve Vietnam's capacities in detection and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
SBV deputy governor Nguyen Thi Hong, on behalf of the Vietnamese government, expressed gratitude to the WB and the PEF for their valuable support.
"We hope in the future, the World Bank will help Vietnam looking for more financial grants like this project," Hong said, adding the central bank was working closely with the Ministry of Health and other agencies to complete the necessary procedures to receive the grant as early as possible.
Vietnam's COVID-19 tally sits at 509 cases, with 373 recoveries and one death as of Friday afternoon, according to Ministry of Health statistics.