Serbia is starting the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, with PM coming first

BELGRADE (Reuters) – Prime Minister Ana Brnabic received Serbia’s first COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, which launched a mass vaccination campaign using doses developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Institute of Virology, Vaccines and Serums, known as “Torlak”, in Belgrade, Serbia, December 24, 2020. REUTERS / Fedja Grulovic

Serbia is the third country in Europe, after Great Britain and Switzerland, to have started mass vaccination against COVID-19.

Around 4,875 doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech coronavirus vaccines were flown to Serbia on Tuesday.

“I am honored to be able to do this for my country and to be the first to pave the way (to be vaccinated) for other citizens,” said Brnabic after being vaccinated at the Institute of Virology, Vaccines and Serums in Belgrade .

Most of the states of the European Union that Serbia intends to join will start vaccinating against COVID-19 on December 27th.

The US has granted emergency approval to vaccinations developed by Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna.

Brnabic said shipments of China’s Sinopharm vaccines and Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines were expected to arrive in the country soon, but did not provide a specific timetable.

She said President Aleksandar Vucic would most likely receive the Sinopharm vaccine. “We both agreed that we’d both be shooting from different producers,” Brnabic told reporters. Serbia would also receive AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines next year.

Most of the first Pfizer / BioNTech vaccines are given to the elderly in retirement homes.

Serbia reported 4,426 coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours and 52 deaths on Wednesday. Since the pandemic started earlier this year, around 312,000 people in the country, including more than 3,000 nurses and doctors, have been infected and 2,833 have died. Hospitals are working to full capacity.

Reporting by Ivana Sekularac; Adaptation by Mark Heinrich