North Macedonia speeds up vaccinations as EU aid arrives

North Macedonia speeds up vaccinations as EU aid arrives

North Macedonia speeds up vaccinations as EU aid arrives Photo

SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — North Macedonias faltering COVID-19 vaccination program picked up speed Tuesday, with authorities starting to use 200,000 Sinopharm jabs bought from China.

The small Balkan country has struggled with vaccine supply shortages. The vaccination program began in mid-February but has continued in fits and starts. About 4% of the countrys 2.1 million people — mostly health workers and the elderly — have so far received a first shot, mostly from batches donated by Serbia and Russia.

Also Tuesday, the European Unions top official for enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi, delivered about 5,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses to North Macedonia. Thats part of a batch of 120,000 the 27-nation bloc will donate to the country by the end of August.

“The EU has been at the side of the Western Balkans since the beginning of the epidemic and will continue to help,” Varhelyi said as he presented the vaccines at an inoculation center in the capital of Skopje. “This is just the beginning.”

Despite still-high infection rates, the government relaxed pandemic restrictions for Orthodox Easter last weekend and will do the same for next month’s holiday of Eid al-Fitr, observed by the predominantly Muslim ethnic Albanian minority.

Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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