COVAX vaccine deliveries have started in the Western Balkans
The EU is one of the main funders of COVAX, the global initiative to secure safe vaccines for the whole world, which has enabled the Western Balkans partners to procure the vaccines now delivered. The EU and its Member States have contributed more than 2.2 billion to COVAX, allowing it to become operational, negotiate with pharmaceutical companies, and start delivering vaccines around the world.
High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell said: "Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, no one is safe until everyone is safe. This is more than a catchphrase: it is a basic truth. We can only defeat the pandemic if we work together, on a global scale, and with our closest partners, such as the Western Balkans. We intend to share part of the vaccines we have ordered with our partner countries, in parallel to accelerating the EU’s own vaccination plans. The EU is one of the largest donors to COVAX – without us it would not be able to do its essential work. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, we have provided health and emergency assistance to the Western Balkans and important resources for an equal, socio-economic and green recovery."
The EU has mobilised more than €3.3 billion to support the Western Balkans in its COVID-19 response. The assistance provided covers medical emergency response – such as equipment, ambulances, COVID tests, ventilators, ICU beds – as well as the region’s long-term economic recovery. The EU’s investment in the health sector in previous years has also proved crucial during the pandemic.
All Western Balkans partners are members of COVAX. Serbia, Albania, BiH, Montenegro and North Macedonia participate as self-financing partners and contribute to this global effort to secure vaccines and protect vulnerable populations across the world. Kosovo is among the 92 low- and middle income economies who receive vaccines for free. The recent deliveries will be followed by additional ones. The EU has also granted the Western Balkans €70 million for procurement of vaccines through EU Member States and its vaccine sharing mechanism, and another €7 million to help the region’s preparedness for vaccination campaigns, to support safe and effective vaccination across the region.
The first COVAX delivery (38.400 doses) to the region arrived on March 12, and EU Ambassador Luigi Soreca welcomed it: “The EU continues to be next to the Albanian people. Nobody is safe until we are all safe!”
Bosnia and Herzegovina
“Good day for BiH and its citizens. Team Europe is one of lead contributors to this global mechanism with €2.2 billion“, commented EU Ambassador Johann Sattler upon the delivery of 49,800 doses to BiH on March 25.
“We have all gone through this together, and together we will emerge from this crisis”, Deputy Head of the EU Office Riccardo Serri said at the arrival ceremony of the first 24,000 doses in Kosovo, 28 March. EU Ambassador Tomáš Szunyog tweeted:
24,000 doses arrived in Podgorica on 28 March. EU Ambassador Oana Cristina Popa said that “Immunisation is the best way to stop this pandemic and to protect Montenegrin citizens, especially the vulnerable ones. We are all in this unprecedented health crisis together and no one is safe until everyone is safe.”
“Team Europe is one of the biggest contributors to the Covax mechanism, which helps to ensure that safe vaccines reach us all, equally”, EU Ambassador David Geer commented upon the delivery of 24,000 vaccine doses on March 28.
57,600 vaccine doses arrived to Belgrade on April 2. “The virus is still spreading, and these doses will help saving lives”, said Dirk Lorenz, chargé d’affaires of the EU Delegation to Serbia. EU Ambassador Sem Fabrizi shared the EU Delegation’s tweet:
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- Commission adopts €70 million package for early access to EU COVID-19 vaccines in the Western Balkans
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