BELGRADE (Reuters) – Serbia said on Thursday it plans to start domestic production of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine in May and China’s Sinopharm shot by mid-October.
After meeting United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Dubai, President Aleksandar Vucic said Serbian production capacity for the Sinopharm vaccine would be ready by Oct. 15.
“We will have large quantities of vaccine for us, but also for the entire region,” Vucic said on state-run RTS TV.
Vucic said within two weeks Serbia and the UAE would sign a deal covering the construction of a new vaccine factory.
“It will be an entirely … new vaccine factory which we will build together with the UAE and the Chinese,” he said.
Also on Thursday, the office of Nenad Popovic, the minister for innovation, said Serbia plans to start local production of the Sputnik V vaccine from May 20.
“The first phase … would include the transport of (vaccine) ingredients from Russia, packing and distribution,” Popovic’s office said after he met Russian trade minister Denis Manturov in Moscow.
Serbia, which has a population of 7 million, has so far registered 503,291 cases of COVID-19 and 4,644 deaths.
Under a state vaccination programme, Serbians can choose between shots made by Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford AstraZeneca, Sinopharm and Sputnik V.
Serbia has one the world’s highest vaccination rates behind the likes of Israel, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, and Britain.
(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Giles Elgood)