Serbian PM starts country’s Covid-19 vaccination

BELGRADE (AFP) – Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic received a Covid-19 jab yesterday in a bid to boost public faith in vaccines as the country kicked off its immunisation campaign.

Several other top doctors and officials also received the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, which will next go to retirement homes in the Balkan state, one of the first in Europe to start vaccinations.

“Today is a day to smile… the day which marks the beginning of the end for the coronavirus,” Brnabic told the press after receiving her jab.

The European Union (EU) candidate country follows the United Kingdom and Switzerland in rolling out the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine while EU member states are set to follow on Sunday.

Serbia, which is eagre to join the EU but also maintains a delicate balance of ties with Moscow and Beijing, is planning to use Russian and Chinese made shots as well.

“Citizens of Serbia will have the vaccines at their disposal,” Brnabic said, adding that most of the stock will be from Chinese pharma giant Sinopharm, which she expects President Aleksandar Vucic to receive.

Serbia’s regulators are still testing Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine several weeks after its arrival.

Officials said a mass immunisation effort will be in swing by mid-January, with the elderly, medical staff and security forces the first priority in a country that has lost more than 2,800 lives to the virus.

Like many parts of the world, Serbia has in recent years seen the rise of a vocal anti-vaccination movement.