EU to send 651,000 vaccine doses to Balkans

The European Union said that it is sending 651,000 Coronavirus vaccine doses to Balkan countries that were not part of the bloc.

This marks a first step and more help will follow, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said on Tuesday.

Austria is coordinating the campaign, which runs from May to August, on the EU’s behalf.

The Pfizer/BioNTech doses were reserved from the outset to offer this kind of help to EU neighbours, and it will not have any impact on the speed of vaccination in the bloc, he said.

The vaccines will be distributed according to need, rather than on a per capita basis.

This means Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and North Macedonia, where few people have had a jab, will get almost 500,000 doses.

The remainder will go to Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia.

The aid is primarily aimed at health and care workers, but the states themselves will decide how to dole out the doses.

Bosnia has seen protests because of the slow procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.

Serbia is the least in need of help among the group and will get some 36,000 doses through the EU programme.

The country has already administered Russian and Chinese vaccines on a massive scale and given at least one dose to 26 per cent of its population. (dpa/NAN)