EU committed to ensuring Covid-19 vaccine is available in Western Balkans too

NEWS 24.12.2020 14:06
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The European Union is committed to ensuring that everyone who needs a COVID-19 vaccine has access to it, anywhere in the world, including Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Western Balkans, the EU’s office in Sarajevo told N1.

“Team Europe – including the European Commission, the European Investment Bank and Member States– has so far announced contributions of more than €870 million for COVAX. This includes a €100 million grant from the European Development Fund, and a €400 million financial guarantee, which the Commission is providing to the EIB enabling the Bank to lend €400 million to GAVI who is managing COVAX.

This EUR 500 million from the EU budget combined with contributions from our EU Member States and the EIB will be a key contribution for the COVAX Facility to ensure over a billion vaccine doses are made available to people in low- and middle-income countries through COVAX,” the EU Delegation in Bosnia and Herzegovina explained.

The statement also stressed the EU would set aside funds and help coordinate arrangements to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines that arrive in the EU can also become available to the Western Balkans in a timely manner, as Commissioner Varhelyi has announced.

“We are working on a solution to enable the EU to make vaccines available to the Western Balkans via a donation of the EU Member States or through an equivalent system. This would ensure support for a relatively quick vaccination of the priority groups. Discussions are still ongoing. This would be a temporary solution to bridge the time gap until vaccines from COVAX will be broadly available.”

In addition, the statement stressed, the Western Balkans are invited to develop their vaccination strategies in line with the guidance given by the Commission to the EU Member States and the EU stands ready to offer assistance.

“We understand that BiH (Bosnia and Herzegovina) is participating in the COVAX Facility and we emphasise that COVAX will be key to secure vaccines for the Western Balkans. We recall the importance of timely coordination of the relevant authorities in BiH in that regard,” the EU Delegation said.