Serbia donates thousands of doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to North Macedonia

BELGRADE, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Serbia donated 4,680 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to North Macedonia on Sunday, allowing its southern neighbour to begin inoculations ahead of schedule.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev met in freezing cold temperatures at the Tabanovce border crossing for a ceremonial handover of one of the boxes containing doses of the shot.

“With this delivery we will be able to vaccinate all medical staff working in COVID centres,” Zaev said.

Serbia is donating enough doses to fully inoculate 2,340 people with the two-dose regime. Vucic said his country had received clearance for the donation from U.S. drugmaker Pfizer , which developed the vaccine with Germany’s BioNTech .

North Macedonia will become the fourth Western Balkan country to start inoculations, after Serbia, Albania and Bosnia. Montenegro and Kosovo have not started inoculation so far.

Serbia is leading its regional peers, with 635,000 of its people having received at least on vaccine dose.

North Macedonia said a week ago that it would buy 200,000 doses of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine as deliveries under the COVAX scheme led by the World Health Organization and GAVI vaccine alliance had been delayed.

The country has ordered 800,000 doses of various vaccines under the COVAX scheme, and another 800,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech shot under the COVAX scheme. (Reporting by Ivana Sekularac; Editing by Pravin Char)