The President of Serbia Aleksander Vucic has compared the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in Europe to the sinking of the Titanic – saying the rich are being saved while the poor of the Balkans are being left to drown.
Serbia has turned to China for its vaccines – saying it has little hope of receiving EU supplies.
Thanks to China, and the delivery of one million doses of its Sinopharm vaccine, Serbia’s vaccination programme is continuing apace.
“I have finally received a vaccine. I feel great, because I will be able to live normally again,” explains Belgrade resident Branka Kosuh. “I did not apply for any vaccine in particular, I decided any would do. I am really happy I did that.”
Belgrade is importing the Sinopharm vaccine which has also been approved in the United Arab Emirates. Phase three testing rates its efficacy at between 79-86% according to interim results.
The purchase has delivered to the Serbian population the second fastest rollout in Europe at 4.6 doses per one hundred people – just behind the United Kingdom but ahead of the EU’s largest nations.
Serbia’s alliance with China is deep-rooted – Beijing has massively invested in a country that it hopes will become the hub of its Belt and Road trade route.
And to critics of his vaccination strategy, Vucic responds that he is competing in a global war for supplies in which poorer nations are being left behind.
“The world has hit an iceberg, like the Titanic, the rich and the richest only save themselves and their loved ones,” he has said.
“They have prepared expensive lifeboats for them and those of us who aren’t rich, who are small, like the countries of the Western Balkans, we’re drowning together with the Titanic. It may not be their intention, but it is not particularly important to them.”
Serbia has now received a delivery of 10,000 pfizer doses, but Vucic said he would be taking the Chinese vaccine.