EU’s Várhelyi in Belgrade: Bloc sends 651,000 vaccines to region

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Source: TANJUG/STRAHINJA ACIMOVIC

The European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Várhelyi said in Belgrade on Monday that the bloc was donating 651,000 doses of anti-coronavirus vaccines to the West Balkans region.

Visiting the Public Health Institute ‘Batut,’ he added that now the key question for people was ‘when can I get a vaccine.’

“I apologise for disturbing you during the national holiday (Serbia moved May 1 two-day holiday to Monday and Tuesday since it fell during the weekend), but the fight against the coronavirus cannot wait. I thought it was the most important to bring the vaccines starting from here in Serbia, the most successful country in immunisation in the region,” Várhelyi said.

He is touring the Western Balkans and after Belgrade, he will visit Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and North Macedonia on Tuesday, and Albania and Kosovo on Wednesday.

 

He recalled the EU was helping Serbia during the pandemic by donating triage containers and vaccine storage refrigerators.
The 651,000 doses, as initiated by Austria, come on top of those provided through the COVAX system which will secure a total of about a million shots for the Western Balkans.

“We all have to vaccinate because without that, the pandemic won’t stop,” Várhelyi said.

Serbia’s Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimovic said Belgrade accepted a smaller quantity of vaccines since others in the region needed them more.

She said Serbia relied on its capacities and was ready for the immunisations.

“Serbia showed solidarity and humanity towards the region and Italy to which it sent medical equipment in April last year,” Joksimovic said.

She thanked the EU for 36,000 Pfizer vaccines that should arrive by the end of August.

Joksimovic also thanked Várhelyi for, as she said, his honest and objective information about Serbia’s solidarity with the region and for allowing the reallocation of unspent funds from IPA projects for the purchase of ventilators and other medical equipment.