Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has been vaccinated with the Chinese-developed Sinopharm vaccine in a televised event aimed at encouraging skeptical Serbians to get an injection against COVID-19.
While Belgrade's procurement of vaccines has been widely lauded abroad, anti-vaccine sentiment in the country has so far left millions of doses arriving in that Balkan state unspoken for, despite a fresh wave of coronavirus infections.
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“I received the vaccine, and I feel great,” Vucic, 51, said via Instagram. “Thank you our great health workers. Thank you our Chinese brothers.”
Vucic has publicly chided the European Union over its approach to the pandemic, despite tens of millions of dollars in emergency health-care assistance to non-member Serbia.
He has also aggressively touted cooperation with Beijing and Moscow as his administration was arranging major shipments of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine and two Chinese vaccines, Sinopharm and Sinovac.
Serbia has also acquired supplies of the Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines.
With more than 1.5 million Serbians already having gotten at least one injection, it is among Europe's leaders among national vaccine rollouts. But dogged resistance and mistrust have left the sign-up for vaccines stalled despite Serbia's population of nearly 7 million people continuing to suffer heavily, along with other Balkan states.
Last month, Serbian officials opened their vaccination effort to foreigners who wanted to come and get vaccinated there.