North Macedonia to order 200,000 Chinese vaccines
SARAJEVO, Feb 6 (Reuters) - North Macedonia will seal a deal next week to purchase 200,000 Chinese Sinopharm 1099.HK vaccines, hoping to get them quickly and start inoculating its population, Health Minister Venko Felipce said on Saturday.
Like Balkan neighbours Montenegro, Kosovo and Bosnia, North Macedonia has not received any vaccines yet under the COVAX scheme led by the World Health Organization and GAVI vaccine alliance.
Felipce said the government decided at a closed session on Friday to sign an agreement to buy the Synopharm vaccines on Monday. He said the government also agreed a plan to transport and distribute the vaccines.
"We predict that between 2,000-2,500 people will be inoculated daily via the existing health network," Felipce said at a news conference carried on his Facebook page, adding the quantity will be enough to inoculate 100,000 people.
Health workers and elderly will be the priority, he said.
North Macedonia has ordered 800,000 vaccines under the COVAX scheme and another 800,000 Pfizer/BioNTech PFN.N, 22UAy.DE vaccines, Felipce said, adding that he hoped they would arrive in phases enabling the inoculation programme to continue.
The COVAX scheme is due to start rolling out vaccines to poor and middle-income countries later this month, with 2 of 3 billion doses expected to be delivered this year. nL1N2JT131
But it has so far struggled to secure enough shots due to a shortage of funds, while wealthy nations have booked large volumes of vaccines for themselves. Europe has also suffered delays in deliveries from Pfizer.nL8N2JV49M
On Saturday, North Macedonia reported 404 new coronavirus cases and eight deaths, bringing the total number of cases to 94,599 and deaths to 2,916.
(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Christina Fincher)