BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) – Serbian President Aleksandar Vuիչըiիչը finally raised his voice for the coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday to encourage more and more pessimistic citizens of his country to shoot themselves.
A live television broadcast showed Vuիչըiիչը, 51, taking the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine in the remote eastern village of Rudna Glava. He opted for the Sinopharm vaccine because some experts believe a third shot of the Chinese vaccine may be needed because the two doses do not provide enough protection.
“I got the vaccine, I feel great,” Vuիչըiիչը said on his Instagram page. “Thank you to our wonderful medical staff. Thanks to our Chinese brothers. ”
The populist president of Serbia, who rarely wore a protective mask during his frequent public appearances, promised to be vaccinated for months, but found various reasons to postpone the event.
The delay has sparked speculation on social media that Vuիչըiիչը is afraid of injection needles, does not trust vaccines or that he was secretly vaccinated months ago.
Critics of the president say his apparent reluctance has helped boost a stronger vaccine movement in Serbia, a traditionally conservative Balkan state.
Serbia has one of the highest rates of COVID-19 vaccine in Europe, mainly due to large government purchases of the Sinopharm vaccine. Balkan countries also use the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca.
About 1.5 million of Serbia’s 7 million people have so far received at least one dose of the vaccine, but the country has seen a recent decline in staffing. Officials and doctors have linked the drop-off to the movement of voice vaccines.
Vucic has largely borrowed from a successful vaccination campaign, which he linked to his “friendly” relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Serbian leader noted that Putin personally helped Serbia obtain emergency supplies for Sputnik V.
Serbia was the first European country to approve and start using both Sinopharm and Sputnik V vaccines. EU drug regulators have not yet allowed the use of these vaccines.
Thousands of vaccine seekers from neighboring countries visited Belgrade last month after authorities cracked down on all foreigners present. Visitors all received doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that were in danger of being wasted as few Serbs opted for British-Swedish pharmaceuticals.
Serbia reports about 5,500 deaths due to the epidemic virus, despite the vaccination campaign, the number of confirmed cases and deaths remains high every day.