WASHINGTON - The World Bank raised $500 million to finance rapid response to disease outbreaks, including through sale of its first-ever "pandemic bonds," the bank announced Wednesday.
Drawing on the slow response to the 2013 Ebola outbreak in Africa in which thousands died, the World Bank designed the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF), to channel surge funding to developing countries facing the risk of a pandemic.
"With this new facility, we have taken a momentous step that has the potential to save millions of lives and entire economies from one of the greatest systemic threats we face," World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement.
"We are moving away from the cycle of panic and neglect that has characterized so much of our approach to pandemics."
The fund will provide $500 million over the next five years through a combination of sales of the bonds and derivatives, cash and future commitments from donor countries, the World Bank said in a statement. Germany provided an initial cash injection of 50 million euros.
The PEF, announced in May 2016 at the Group of 20 finance ministers meeting in Japan, was oversubscribed by 200 percent.
The PEF covers six viruses that are most likely to cause a pandemic, including those responsible for new influenza pandemic virus A, SARS, MERS, Ebola, Marburg, and others like Crimean Congo, Rift Valley and Lassa fever.
© Agence France-Presse