Coronavirus: Serbia urges for international acceptance of Russian COVID-19 vaccine

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Top Serbian politicians urged greater international acceptance of Russia's coronavirus vaccine on Wednesday as they joined the front of their country's queue for shots, days after Moscow delivered the first consignment.

The first batch of 2,400 doses of Sputnik V vaccine arrived on Dec. 30, and Russian sovereign fund RDIF said it had agreed to supply more up to a total of 2 million.

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Serbia started inoculations with the two-stage drug on Wednesday, including a shot for parliament speaker Ivica Dacic, who urged the World Health Organization to register it.

"You heard certain statements that (international) travel will be allowed for those who get the Pfizer shot only," he said.

"I would not be surprised if they (the statements) turn to be true as a kind of political pressure."

So far only the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech - with which Serbia kicked off a mass inoculation drive last month - has been granted emergency WHO approval.

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Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin, known for his pro-Moscow stance, was also among the first to get the Sputnik shot. "I wanted to get the Russian vaccine, because I believe in Russian medicine," he told reporters.

Russia has so far signed agreements to supply Sputnik V to Argentina, Mexico, Bolivia, Venezuela, Uzbekistan, Algeria, Egypt, Nepal and India and has production partners for the drug in several countries.

Serbia, which officials say also plans to obtain the vaccines from AstraZeneca, Moderna and China's Sinopharm, has registered almost 350,000 cases of COVID-19 with 3,405 deaths.

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