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IMF approves $220 million loan for Afghanistan amid coronavirus

"The pandemic is inflicting heavy damage on Afghanistan's economy, which is expected to contract sharply in 2020, imperilling the livelihood of a significant segment of the population," the IMF said in a statement

April 30, 2020 / 08:45 AM IST

The IMF board on Wednesday approved $220 million in emergency aid for Afghanistan to help the country deal with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

"The pandemic is inflicting heavy damage on Afghanistan's economy, which is expected to contract sharply in 2020, imperilling the livelihood of a significant segment of the population," the IMF said in a statement.

The funds from the Washington-based crisis lender will "help meet the urgent" financing needs as the authorities boost critical health spending and roll out social assistance to households hit hard by the crisis.

War-ravaged Afghanistan will see its economy contract this year "leading to a rise in unemployment and poverty."

The loan comes from the IMF's Rapid Credit Facility, which has been ramped up and doubled in size to get aid quickly to the world's poorest nations, which are most vulnerable to the economic effects of shutdowns to contain the outbreak.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

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There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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A country can receive up to two loans from the facility in a 12-month period, pay zero interest and take 10 years to repay, with the first payment not due for five-and-a-half years.

IMF Managing Director Kristina Georgieva said the fund has received over 100 requests for aid from its members, and developing countries will need about $2.5 trillion to deal with the impacts of the pandemic.
PTI
first published: Apr 30, 2020 08:40 am

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