Doses from Russia, China and the EU: Serbia is way ahead of the EU when it comes to vaccination

Cans from Russia, China and EU
Serbia is way ahead of the EU when it comes to vaccination

President Vučić recently promised himself a memorial because the Serbian vaccination campaign is going so well. The non-EU country only has a fraction of Germany's economic opportunities, but a vaccination rate that is twice as high. Behind this are tactical finesse and potent "friends".

Serbia is not in the European Union and is miles away from Germany's economic strength. But with the corona vaccinations, progress is much faster in the Balkan country than in this country and in the other EU countries. The non-EU country Great Britain is the only country in Europe in which the proportion of people vaccinated is currently higher than in Serbia. The recipe of the government in Belgrade includes having corona vaccine doses supplied from China and Russia.

In the large exhibition hall in Belgrade, dozens of nurses in protective suits have already injected many corona vaccination syringes into old and young people. More than 544,000 vaccine doses have been administered across the country since December 24th. By Sunday, 8.0 vaccine doses per 100 inhabitants had been achieved. In Germany, however, this rate was only 3.9 percent, as the scientific website "Our World in Data" lists.

While the EU is arguing with western companies such as Astrazeneca over delayed vaccine deliveries, vaccine doses from other regions of the world are also available for the people in Serbia. Those who make a vaccination appointment can currently choose between the product from Biontech / Pfizer, the Russian vaccine Sputnik V and the vaccine from the Chinese manufacturer Sinopharm. The vaccine doses from the People's Republic make up the lion's share after Serbia received one million doses from Sinopharm in mid-January.

The EU left Serbia hanging at the start of the pandemic

The right-wing populist Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić attributes the successes in vaccination to his clever diplomacy and political friendships and presents himself as a hero in the Corona crisis. "I wrote to Xi Jinping in October and the price was drastically reduced," Vučić told local media about his negotiations with the Chinese leader about the Sinopharm supplies. "When you find out about the price, one day you will erect a monument in my honor," added Serbia's head of state, not very modestly.

In the Belgrade exhibition hall, it often only takes 15 minutes to vaccinate. After a short health check-up, the vaccinated people follow red arrows on the floor to the registration area and from there to the vaccination booths. In Serbia, known for its grueling bureaucracy, the speedy vaccinations came as a surprise to some. "Everyone knew exactly what they were doing, there was enough staff and everyone was nice," says 38-year-old Snezana Krivokapic after receiving her injection.

In addition to the million from China, Serbia received 40,000 doses of Sputnik V and 30,000 doses from the German company Biontech. Vučić recently announced that Serbia would get one million more doses from "friends" before March.

"Vučić, Putin and Xi save Serbia," summarized a pro-government tabloid with a view to the heads of state of Serbia, Russia and China. Many follow this point of view after accusations have been raised against the EU that it is letting the Western Balkan countries down in the struggle for corona vaccinations. Apart from Albania, Serbia is the only country in the region that has already started immunization.

At the beginning of the pandemic, China helped significantly more than the EU when the Balkan country urgently needed masks and other protective equipment. Relations between the two countries have grown closer and closer in recent years. Serbia is an interesting partner for Beijing to increase its economic influence in Europe. The Balkans are already indebted to Beijing because of several infrastructure projects.

Hungary is the only country within the EU that has also approved corona vaccines from China and Russia. According to its own information, the country ordered five million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine. Prime Minister Viktor Orban recently praised Serbia's "inspirational example" in vaccine procurement. The neighboring country is a "laboratory" to test how things are going with the Sinopharm vaccine.