BELGRADE (Reuters) – Serbia could have the capacity to domestically manufacture Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year, the minister for innovations said on Thursday.
Nenad Popovic was speaking after meeting a team of experts from Russia, a traditional ally, to assess country’s capacities to produce the vaccine.
“For the full production cycle … that would probably require nine to 10 months,” Popovic told reporters, adding that the vaccine would not only be distributed inside Serbia, “but also throughout the region and even the whole of Europe”.
Earlier in the day, Popovic said Serbia had to purchase the necessary equipment to start manufacturing Sputnik V. “There is a huge shortage of that equipment in the world,” he said.
Last week, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said the Balkan country would invest as much as necessary to start domestic production of the Russian shot.
Under a state vaccination programme, Serbians can choose between shots: Pfizer Inc-BioNTech,, China’s Sinopharm and Russia’s Sputnik V.
With around 8% of its population inoculated with at least one dose of vaccine against COVID-19, Serbia has one the world’s highest vaccination rates behind the likes of Israel, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, and Britain.
This week, Serbia received a shipment of 500,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine and 50,000 doses of Sputnik V.
(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Pravin Char)