Serbia plans Thursday coronavirus vaccine kickoff

Serbia will start its coronavirus vaccination program on Thursday, its president said Wednesday, launching the EU candidate country ahead of its wealthier neighbors.

The first shots will go to elderly people in nursing homes, President Aleksandar Vučić told reporters Wednesday, according to AFP. He predicted a mass campaign would begin in mid-January. Nearly 5,000 doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine arrived in Belgrade on Tuesday, after winning approval from the Serbian regulator on December 18.

That puts Serbia on track to be the first country in continental Europe to distribute the BioNTech/Pfizer jab. The U.K. started earlier this month, and vaccinations are also underway in the U.S.

The EU approved the immunization on Monday, and vaccination in the EU27 is set to begin on Sunday.

Vučić told reporters that either him, Prime Minister Ana Brnabić or Social Policy Minister Darija Kisić Tepavčević would receive the vaccine in a bid to boost confidence, according to Serbian news outlet N1.

He also noted that Serbia was part of the global COVAX Facility, which aims to reserve vaccines on behalf of countries to equitable distribution.

The Serbian medecines regulator is looking into Chinese and Russian vaccine candidates as well.

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