Serbians free to pick their vaccine amid plentiful supply

Aleksandar Vasovic
·2-min read
Serbia offers people a choice between vaccines

By Aleksandar Vasovic

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Unlike people in other countries who are worrying about when they will be vaccinated, Serbians can focus instead on which coronavirus vaccine to go for.

Under the state's mass-inoculation program, they can currently choose between shots from Pfizer Inc-BioNTech, China's Sinopharm or Russia's Sputnik.

They can also opt to receive whichever is available on a certain day in the hope of being vaccinated more swiftly.

Through deals with manufacturers and governments, Belgrade has so far secured a million doses of vaccine from China and tens of thousands of doses from other producers, allowing it to have the second highest vaccination rate in Europe, behind only the United Kingdom.

People have weighed up all kinds of personal factors in choosing their protection against a disease which has so far killed 4,056 and infected almost 400,000 people in the Balkan country of 7 million.

Pensioner Sinisa Ilic, who was among those lining up outside hall 11 at Belgrade's exhibition centre, said he was opting for the Pfizer-BioNTech shot as it is also licensed in the European Union, which he hopes will allow him to travel there later.

"I wanted the Pfizer... because my child is in Germany... so I could safely travel," he said.

Outside hall 3, others waited for the Sinopharm vaccine.

"My lifelong friend who is a doctor told me to go and get Chinese vaccine. It is good," said Miladin Djurovic.

President Aleksandar Vucic said on Wednesday he had asked Chinese President Xi Jinping for more vaccine.

"The (Serbian) people ... have deep trust in the Chinese vaccine, the Chinese state and ... experts," Vucic said in a statement.

Vucic's office said separately he had also asked Russian President Vladimir Putin for more deliveries.

The statement added Serbia plans to build a production plant to manufacture the Sputnik V vaccine locally. So far. India and South Korea have started their own production of the Sputnik V.

(Reporting by Fedja Grulovic and Branko Filipovic; Writing by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)