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Serbia soars ahead of UK in its vaccination campaign

By Ricky Browne

When it comes to vaccinating its people, the best performing country in Europe today falls outside of the  European Union – but  its not the United Kingdom.

In fact, the country with the highest daily vaccination rate in Europe is now Serbia – thanks to it receiving a one million shipment of Sinopharm vaccines from China in January. Behind it are the UK, Iceland and Malta.

A view of a monastery in Serbia

Serbia’s high rate of vaccination — even though its with a vaccines that are not widely approved — demonstrates again how difficult it is for the EU to act quickly in rolling out its own programmes.

Romania is the highest ranking country in the EU in terms of its daily vaccination rate, according to statistics from Our World in Data. It ranks fifth.

Our World in Data

Other vaccines are also available though, including the Pfizer/BioNtech and Sputnik V – but in much smaller amounts.

On the world stage, Israel is still the number one country with the highest rate of daily vaccinations. But Serbia has now zoomed into second place, followed by the United Arab Emirates (which is also utilising the Chinese vaccine), then Chile and then the United Kingdom.

Over in the EU, only Serbian neighbour Hungary is reported to have approved the both the Chinese Sinopharm and Russian Sputnik V vaccines. The country has reportedly ordered a total of five million doses. The Chinese vaccines have not yet been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) – but some countries have approved it, such as the UAE, where the Sinopharm vaccine is being relied on for its programme.

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic gets the Pfizer vaccine on 24 December 2020, well before other European leaders Photo: Reuters

The Balkan country of seven million people, has so far vaccinated some 550,000 people. It is currently vaccinating an average of 1.35 people for every 100 people – according to numbers coming out of Our World in Data. That compares to an average of 0.97 people out of every 100 people in the UAE, 0.94 in Chile and 0.62 in the UK.

HOW OTHERS MATCH UP

Other European countries are performing much more poorly. Slovakia is the next highest European country with a rate of 0.22 per hundred people. Next is France with a rate of 0.17. Germany has a rate of 0.15.

A castle in Slovakia

Other countries on the list include the United States, just below the UK with a rate of 0.51 per 100 people, China with a rate of 0.12 per 100 people and Italy with a rate of 0.1 – tying with Bangladesh.

The poorest performing developed country appears to be Canada with a daily rate of 0.07 people per 100 people.

India is at the bottom of the Our World in Data list, with a rate of 0.02 – but then again its population is massive at more than 1.3 million – and yet it has still donated millions of vaccines to other developing countries.,  For more information on India’s vaccine diplomacy please see this story…

WHAT ALEKSANDAR VUCIC SAID

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić  said that his country needed to take matters into its own hands, when its pleas to the EU and others were having no effect.

VUCIC… we needed to take care of ourselves

“I’m not criticising anyone,” Vučić  said as reported by Euronews,  “But we needed to take care of ourselves. It’s not easy watching the others in the surroundings taking all those vaccines, and you have nothing to offer to your people.”

“I spoke several times to many people from the United Kingdom, China, Russia, all top officials. I was begging them, I was asking for more vaccines for Serbia – and not only for Serbia,” Vučić said.

He hoped that in due course Serbia would receive most of its vaccines from the EU.

A view of Belgrade, capital of Serbia

And even though Serbia fought a bloody war with its fellow states in the former Yugoslavia, it says will be willing to donate some of its vaccines to neighbouring countries, such as North Macedonia and possibly other Balkan countries in need, “because we need our neighbours to be vaccinated, to be inoculated in the way that we are.”

Serbia was seen by much of the world as the main aggressor in that war. But it kept and built upon close relations with both Russia and China – both of which are helping the country now with its vaccination programme.

The vaccines from Russia and China have not yet got world-wide approval. But reports coming out of Serbia are that the vaccines are working just fine.

CHILE

Across on the other side of the world, Chile is one of the best performing countries in accessing vaccines and rolling out its vaccination programme though it doesn’t have the wealth of many of the other top countries.

Chile raises its hand as one of the best performing developing countries

The South American country has vaccinated more than two million people, and is said to have ordered almost 90 million vaccine doses – more than enough to vaccinate its population of just over 19 million people. It made orders with AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Sinovac and Johnson & Johnson as well as from the global vaccine-supply programme, Covax.

As such Chile is in a better position than most European countries, and almost all developing economies.

OVERALL RATE

Overall, in terms of the total number of vaccinations per 100 people – not the daily rate – the United Kingdom is still third, behind Israel and the UAE, with Serbia, the United States, Bahrain and Chile following.

Denmark is listed by Our World Data as the best performing EU country, ranked just below Chile and above Switzerland.

The Serbian flag

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