Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals

Bulgaria to provide up to 150,000 COVID vaccines to Balkan countries

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SOFIA, June 3 (Reuters) - Bulgaria plans to provide about 150,000 COVID-19 vaccines to its Balkan neighbours, Health Minister Stoicho Katsarov said on Thursday.

Bulgaria has the lowest inoculation rates in the European Union, but Katsarov said the country has agreed about 13 million -14 million doses under the EU supply scheme by the end of the year and can afford to help other countries.

"The idea is to distribute up to 150,000 doses among our neighbouring western Balkan countries," Katsarov told reporters, adding that Sofia has received requests from North Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo and Bosnia.

"Our needs are fully covered so there is no danger whatsoever that Bulgaria can be left without vaccines," he said.

Katsarov said he expects to receive an answer on Friday from the European Commission how exactly the country should proceed and whether it could donate or sell the doses.

He said Bulgaria was looking to donate mostly AstraZeneca (AZN.L) vaccines, not least because of the low interest in them at home.

Last week President Rumen Radev said Sofia plans to donate a significant amount of vaccines to North Macedonia in a move that could help improve strained relations over Bulgaria's veto on the start of EU accession talks with Skopje.

Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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