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World North Macedonia speeds up vaccinations as EU aid arrives

23:20  04 may  2021
23:20  04 may  2021 Source:   msn.com

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SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — North Macedonia's faltering COVID-19 vaccination program picked up speed Tuesday, with authorities starting to use 200,000 Sinopharm jabs bought from China.

People wait after being vaccinated at the center for mass vaccination against COVID-19, at A1 Arena in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. The European Union started delivering EU-funded coronavirus vaccines Tuesday to the Balkans, a region that wants to join the 27-nation bloc but where China and Russia have already been supplying the much-needed shots and making political gains. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski) © Provided by Associated Press People wait after being vaccinated at the center for mass vaccination against COVID-19, at A1 Arena in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. The European Union started delivering EU-funded coronavirus vaccines Tuesday to the Balkans, a region that wants to join the 27-nation bloc but where China and Russia have already been supplying the much-needed shots and making political gains. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski) A nurse administers a vaccine to a woman at the center for mass vaccination against COVID-19, at A1 Arena in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. The European Union started delivering EU-funded coronavirus vaccines Tuesday to the Balkans, a region that wants to join the 27-nation bloc but where China and Russia have already been supplying the much-needed shots and making political gains. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski) © Provided by Associated Press A nurse administers a vaccine to a woman at the center for mass vaccination against COVID-19, at A1 Arena in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. The European Union started delivering EU-funded coronavirus vaccines Tuesday to the Balkans, a region that wants to join the 27-nation bloc but where China and Russia have already been supplying the much-needed shots and making political gains. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

The small Balkan country has struggled with vaccine supply shortages. The vaccination program began in mid-February but has continued in fits and starts. About 4% of the country's 2.1 million people — mostly health workers and the elderly — have so far received a first shot, mostly from batches donated by Serbia and Russia.

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A nurse waits at a vaccination booth, in the center for vaccination against COVID-19, at A1 Arena in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. The European Union started delivering EU-funded coronavirus vaccines Tuesday to the Balkans, a region that wants to join the 27-nation bloc but where China and Russia have already been supplying the much-needed shots and making political gains. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski) © Provided by Associated Press A nurse waits at a vaccination booth, in the center for vaccination against COVID-19, at A1 Arena in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. The European Union started delivering EU-funded coronavirus vaccines Tuesday to the Balkans, a region that wants to join the 27-nation bloc but where China and Russia have already been supplying the much-needed shots and making political gains. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

Also Tuesday, the European Union's top official for enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi, delivered about 5,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses to North Macedonia. That's part of a batch of 120,000 the 27-nation bloc will donate to the country by the end of August.

A Red Cross volunteer hands people papers before entering the COVID-19 vaccination center, at A1 Arena in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. The European Union started delivering EU-funded coronavirus vaccines Tuesday to the Balkans, a region that wants to join the 27-nation bloc but where China and Russia have already been supplying the much-needed shots and making political gains. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski) © Provided by Associated Press A Red Cross volunteer hands people papers before entering the COVID-19 vaccination center, at A1 Arena in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. The European Union started delivering EU-funded coronavirus vaccines Tuesday to the Balkans, a region that wants to join the 27-nation bloc but where China and Russia have already been supplying the much-needed shots and making political gains. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

“The EU has been at the side of the Western Balkans since the beginning of the epidemic and will continue to help,” Varhelyi said as he presented the vaccines at an inoculation center in the capital of Skopje. “This is just the beginning.”

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A nurse prepares a COVID-19 vaccine, at the center for mass vaccination against COVID-19, at A1 Arena in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. The European Union started delivering EU-funded coronavirus vaccines Tuesday to the Balkans, a region that wants to join the 27-nation bloc but where China and Russia have already been supplying the much-needed shots and making political gains. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski) © Provided by Associated Press A nurse prepares a COVID-19 vaccine, at the center for mass vaccination against COVID-19, at A1 Arena in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. The European Union started delivering EU-funded coronavirus vaccines Tuesday to the Balkans, a region that wants to join the 27-nation bloc but where China and Russia have already been supplying the much-needed shots and making political gains. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

North Macedonia Health Minister Venko Filipce says the government now hopes to deliver about 15,000 shots daily, up from about 2,000 earlier.

People talk to health workers prior to their vaccination at the center for mass vaccination against COVID-19, at A1 Arena in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. The European Union started delivering EU-funded coronavirus vaccines Tuesday to the Balkans, a region that wants to join the 27-nation bloc but where China and Russia have already been supplying the much-needed shots and making political gains. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski) © Provided by Associated Press People talk to health workers prior to their vaccination at the center for mass vaccination against COVID-19, at A1 Arena in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. The European Union started delivering EU-funded coronavirus vaccines Tuesday to the Balkans, a region that wants to join the 27-nation bloc but where China and Russia have already been supplying the much-needed shots and making political gains. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

Despite still-high infection rates, the government relaxed pandemic restrictions for Orthodox Easter last weekend and will do the same for next month’s holiday of Eid al-Fitr, observed by the predominantly Muslim ethnic Albanian minority.

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People wait in line to enter the COVID-19 vaccination center, at A1 Arena in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. The European Union started delivering EU-funded coronavirus vaccines Tuesday to the Balkans, a region that wants to join the 27-nation bloc but where China and Russia have already been supplying the much-needed shots and making political gains. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski) © Provided by Associated Press People wait in line to enter the COVID-19 vaccination center, at A1 Arena in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. The European Union started delivering EU-funded coronavirus vaccines Tuesday to the Balkans, a region that wants to join the 27-nation bloc but where China and Russia have already been supplying the much-needed shots and making political gains. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

As of Tuesday, North Macedonia had recorded nearly 153,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections and about 5,000 deaths.

European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi, right, Austrian Federal Minister for EU Karoline Edstadler, center, and North Macedonia's Prime Minister Zoran Zaev visit the center for mass vaccination against COVID-19, at A1 Arena in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. The European Union started delivering EU-funded coronavirus vaccines Tuesday to the Balkans, a region that wants to join the 27-nation bloc but where China and Russia have already been supplying the much-needed shots and making political gains. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski): Virus Outbreak North Macedonia EU Vaccine © Provided by Associated Press Virus Outbreak North Macedonia EU Vaccine

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Austrian Federal Minister for EU Karoline Edstadler talks for the media in presence of European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi and North Macedonia's Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, after visiting the center for mass vaccination against COVID-19, at A1 Arena in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. The European Union started delivering EU-funded coronavirus vaccines Tuesday to the Balkans, a region that wants to join the 27-nation bloc but where China and Russia have already been supplying the much-needed shots and making political gains. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski) © Provided by Associated Press Austrian Federal Minister for EU Karoline Edstadler talks for the media in presence of European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi and North Macedonia's Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, after visiting the center for mass vaccination against COVID-19, at A1 Arena in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. The European Union started delivering EU-funded coronavirus vaccines Tuesday to the Balkans, a region that wants to join the 27-nation bloc but where China and Russia have already been supplying the much-needed shots and making political gains. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi talks to the media in the presence of Austrian Federal Minister for EU Karoline Edstadler and North Macedonia's Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, after visiting the center for mass vaccination against COVID-19, at A1 Arena in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. The European Union started delivering EU-funded coronavirus vaccines Tuesday to the Balkans, a region that wants to join the 27-nation bloc but where China and Russia have already been supplying the much-needed shots and making political gains. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski) © Provided by Associated Press European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi talks to the media in the presence of Austrian Federal Minister for EU Karoline Edstadler and North Macedonia's Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, after visiting the center for mass vaccination against COVID-19, at A1 Arena in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. The European Union started delivering EU-funded coronavirus vaccines Tuesday to the Balkans, a region that wants to join the 27-nation bloc but where China and Russia have already been supplying the much-needed shots and making political gains. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

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