As hundreds and thousands of people across the European Union have been preparing themselves to receive a coronavirus vaccination shot, the Balkan nations have been left behind.
Balkan nations are still struggling to get to COVID-19 vaccines from various organizations but most of the nations on Europe’s southeastern boundary are still waiting for the arrival of their first vaccines. With no concrete timeline for the vaccines arrival, their national immunization drive is hanging in the air, leaving the Balkans feel abandoned and helpless.
One corner of the European continent comprising of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia- with almost 20 million people, is clearly to lag behind the EU’s 27 nations and Britain’s effort in reaching mass immunization to the people of the Balkan nations.
Dragan Danilovski, North Macedonian epidemiologist has compared the present COVID-19 vaccine situation in the Western Balkans to the discrimination witnessed during the sinking of the Titanic in 1911.
Danilovski has told the broadcaster TV 24, “The rich have grabbed all the available lifeboats, leaving the less fortunate behind.”
As the world faces its most crucial health crisis, the Balkan sentiments are stirred as they find themselves left sandwiched between Western and Russian spheres of influence.
50-year-old Belma Djonko in Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital, said, “I felt as if the bottom fell out of my hopes for a return to a normal life,” after hearing that doctors, nurses and the elderly across the EU had already received the first doses of a vaccine developed by American drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, while the Balkans are still waiting. The Balkans are putting their hopes on COVAX, a global vaccine procurement agency set up by the World Health Organization (WHO) and several other agencies to address the disparity in vaccine circulation. Though COVAX has assured them of the vaccine, but as of now only 20% of the country’s populations are to receive it.