Aleksandar Vučić: Serbia 'needed to take care of ourselves'
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Serbia, which is currently in the process of joining the EU as a member state, has been able to secure contracts directly with vaccine providers as the European Union struggles with their programme. The Balkan state has a better population vaccination rate than nearly all European countries, being only behind the UK, as the Serbian Government aims to vaccinate 15 percent of its population by the end of February against coronavirus. The decision to put geopolitics aside and to push quickly ahead with vaccine approvals means the country uses doses created from all over the world.
Speaking to Euronews about Serbia’s programme, Mr Vucic explained how the nation was able to have a population vaccination rate over twice as high as the EU’s total.
He said: “Many EU countries got their vaccines, so far we haven’t had a single one the Covax programme.
“We got them from our bilateral arrangement with Americans, with Pfizer, we got it from China, we got it from Russia but we didn’t get it from the European Union.
“Hopefully, and I am not criticising anyone, I hope we are going to get a real (supply) from the EU and that would be very helpful and supportive to us in this period of time.
“But we needed to take care of ourselves.”
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The Covax programme is a scheme led by the World Health Organisation to ensure less economically developed countries were guaranteed vaccines from providers.
Serbia paid £3.5million to the programme but delays have made the country look elsewhere.
It comes as the UK secured contracts with drug companies like AstraZeneca before many other powers and were able to rollout doses quicker.
The president continued: “We have vaccinated more than 550,000 people plus 50,000 revaccinated with the second dose and by the end of February, our plan is to vaccinate one million people with two doses.
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“Which will be almost 15 percent of our overall population.”
Serbia’s policy on vaccines has been pragmatic in its approach as they wasted no time to approve vaccines wherever they came from.
Hungary was the first EU member-state to accept the Russian Sputnik V vaccine as the EU scrambles to secure any doses.
According to the latest data, the UK has vaccinated over 13 million people and could soon hit its 15 million target.
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While the 13 million people vaccinated so far have only received one jab, over 500,000 people have received their second due to the recommended waiting period between shots.
There are now calls to reopen the UK as schools are expected to be the first to have their lockdown measures eased.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps recently announced that would-be travellers should not book summer holidays which has contradicted previous Government optimism.
The Government fear the new variants could undo the good work of the vaccination programme which can be imported from other countries.
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