Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic speaks during a welcoming ceremony of China's Sinopharm inactivated coronavirus vaccines in Belgrade, Serbia, Jan. 16, 2021. (Photo by Predrag Milosavljevic/Xinhua)
"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," said Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.
BELGRADE, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- A million doses of China's Sinopharm inactivated coronavirus vaccines arrived at the Belgrade Airport in Serbia on Saturday, the government has confirmed in a press release.
The shipment was welcomed at the Belgrade Airport by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, China's Ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo, Serbian Health Minister Zlatibor Loncar and the head of the Security Intelligence Agency Bratislav Gasic.
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 get vaccinated with the Sinopharm vaccine.
"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," he said.
Workers unload a container of China's Sinopharm inactivated coronavirus vaccines at the Belgrade Airport, Serbia, Jan. 16, 2021. (Photo by Predrag Milosavljevic/Xinhua)
Vucic stated that Serbia has procured all vaccines that have arrived so far bilaterally through "negotiating with the Americans for Pfizer, with the Russians for Sputnik V and with the Chinese for the Sinopharm vaccine."
The vaccination would start once the Chinese vaccine gets final approval from Serbia's Agency for Medicines and Medical Devices.
Serbia has reported nearly 370,000 COVID-19 infections since the beginning of the pandemic, while 3,708 people have died. A total of 5,409 patients are hospitalized across the country, of whom 196 are connected to respiratory ventilators.
After peaking every day in November and December last year, the number of new infections is decreasing in January.
The COVID-19 vaccination drive started in Serbia on Dec. 24, 2020, and so far the country has obtained around 1.4 million doses of different vaccines.
Sinopharm is the third vaccine to arrive in Serbia, after the Pfizer-BioNtech and the Sputnik V vaccines.
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic (C) touches fists with a lab technician at a new Fire Eye laboratory in Nis, southeastern Serbia, on July 30, 2020. (Government of Serbia/Handout via Xinhua)
China has provided help to Serbia over the course of the pandemic. Besides medical supplies, a Chinese medical expert team spent months helping Serbian authorities coordinate the country's anti-pandemic response, while the Chinese BGI group helped build two "Fire Eye" testing labs.
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 Dec. 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. ■