Serbia becomes first European country to get China’s Covid vaccine

Country receives one million doses of the Sinopharm jab

Joe Middleton
Monday 18 January 2021 16:26 GMT
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (pictured centre) await the arrival of the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine on Saturday
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (pictured centre) await the arrival of the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine on Saturday

Serbia has become the first European country to get the Covid-19 vaccine  that was developed in China after a plane carrying one million doses landed in the capital on Saturday.

President Aleksandar Vucic personally attended Belgrade airport alongside Beijing’s ambassador to the Balkan country to see vials of the inoculation - called Sinopharm - arrive ready to be deployed.

Mr Vucic said:  "I would like to thank President Xi Jinping and Chinese leadership for sending us one million doses of the vaccine."

Serbia has vaccinated 20,000 people so far but has not yet had enough doses to be able to embark on a mass vaccination programme like other European nations such as the UK or Germany.

They have received small amounts of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine and Russia’s Sputnik jab which have been used primarily on elderly patients in nursing homes.

Mr Vucic said Serbia expects to get another 250,000 doses of the Sputnik vaccine and 20,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines this week. He also said the Balkan country expects to get shipments of AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines by June.

Serbian officials have gotten their jabs on TV to encourage citizens to sign up for the vaccination programme and discourage the spread of coronavirus conspiracy theories.

Neighbouring Hungary expects its medical regulator to approve use of the Sinopharm vaccine for mass inoculation, after the European Commision gave its clearance for it to negotiate Sinopharm vaccine supply.

In the Western Balkan region, inoculation has started only in Serbia and Albania. Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro and North Macedonia have not yet received supplies of any vaccine.

China approved the shot developed by Sinopharm's BIBP in late December, its first COVID-19 vaccine for general public use. 

No detailed efficacy data has been released but BIBP has said the vaccine is 79.34% effective based on interim data.

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