The first batch of one million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by China’s Beijing-based pharmaceutical company Sinopharm arrived in Belgrade, Serbia at 9:50 a.m. local time on Saturday.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, local officials, and Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo received the consignment at Nikola Tesla International Airport in Belgrade.
Vucic said that the arrival of the vaccine is “proof of the great friendship between Serbia and China,” and it will help protect the lives of 500,000 people, adding he will also get vaccinated with the Sinopharm vaccine.
The vaccinations will start once the Chinese vaccine gets a final approval by Serbia’s Agency for Medicines and Medical Devices.
“As an ordinary person and the president of Serbia, I am convinced of the quality of the Chinese vaccine, which will be decided by our competent agency,” Vucic said.
Serbia has also purchased Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine as well as a jab jointly developed by America’s Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech.
The country started its COVID-19 vaccination drive late last month, and so far the country has obtained around 1.4 million doses of vaccines.
Nearly 370,000 COVID-19 infections have been reported in Serbia, while 3,708 people have died. A total of 5,409 patients are hospitalized across the country, of whom 196 have been put on respiratory ventilators.
During the pandemic, aside from providing medical supplies, China sent a medical expert team to Serbia which stayed there for months to help Serbian authorities coordinate the country’s anti-pandemic response, and the Chinese BGI group, a genome research company, also assisted the country build two “Fire Eye” testing labs.
Chinese Ambassador Chen said that Serbia and China are fighting the coronavirus side by side, and “China is the first country in the world to promise that its vaccine will be a global public good.”
“The Sinopharm vaccine was officially registered in China on December 30, and it arrived in Serbia only after 16 days. The arrival of the Chinese vaccine is part of our joint fight against the virus, and I believe it will contribute to fighting the epidemic in Serbia,” Chen said.
(With input from Xinhua)