Serbia to make lab tests of Russia's COVID-19 vaccine: statement

FILE PHOTO: A laboratory assistant holds a tube with Russia's "Sputnik-V" vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the National Institute of Pharmacy and Nutrition in Budapest, Hungary, November 19, 2020. Matyas Borsos/Hungarian Foreign Ministry/Handout via REUTERS

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Serbia plans to start laboratory testing of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus and it will also continue talks with drugmaker Pfizer Inc about purchasing its shot, the country’s prime minister said on Monday.

Russia will deliver 20 doses of its vaccine to Serbia for laboratory testing by the end of the week, the office of Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said in a statement after speaking via videoconference with Russia’s trade and industry minister Denis Manturov.

“Serbia is interested in ... a possibility of a joint production of the vaccine,” the statement said.

Russia has said interim trial results show its vaccine to be 92% effective at protecting people from COVID-19.

The statement also said Brnabic will continue talks with Pfizer on Tuesday. It offered no further details.

Before Serbia adopts any vaccine, it must be approved by the country’s Medicines and Medical Devices Agency.

So far 175,438 people have fallen ill with COVID-19 in Serbia, which has a population of 7.2 million, and 1,604 have died from it.

Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic in Belgrade; Editing by Matthew Lewis