BiH's FM criticised for implying vaccines Serbia donated are not of good quality

NEWS 03.03.2021 17:23
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Source: REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

There is only one type of AstraZeneca vaccine, and it is being produced in several places in the world, scientists told N1 on Wednesday, criticising Bosnia’s Foreign Affairs Minister for saying that the vaccines of this brand that Serbia donated to BiH were produced in India, are not approved for use in the EU and are "mainly used in poor countries."

Serbian President, Aleksandar Vucic, arrived in Sarajevo on Tuesday to hand over Serbia’s donation of 5,000 vaccines to Bosnia’s Federation (FBiH) entity.

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Although Bosnia’s three Presidency members expressed gratitude to Vucic and Serbia, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Bisera Turkovic, told media that the ‘Covishield’ vaccines that were donated, which are licensed by AstraZeneca, are produced in India, easy to procure and “mainly used in poor countries.”

She said that “this Indian vaccine does not have approval for use in Europe, as opposed to the AstraZeneca vaccines that are produced in the EU.”

But according to microbiologist at the University of Warwick, Branko Rihtman, “there is only one AstraZeneca vaccine which is being produced in several places.”

“Since AstraZeneca itself is not able to produce a sufficient number of vaccines for the whole world in a short period of time, AstraZeneca has to date signed contracts with several different manufacturers,” he explained.

The director of the verification laboratory ‘Verlab’, Almir Badnjevic, told N1 that he spoke to a friend who works in the management of AstraZeneca and that there is a possibility the country might sue Bosnia over Turkovic’s statements.

“This has reached the people in AstraZeneca and it will be discussed by the management,” he said, adding that “they consider this a grave insult.”

Badnjevic explained that the European Medicines Agency has been auditing the factory in India which has AstraZeneca’s licence and that the vaccine will surely be approved in the EU soon. It has been approved in Canada and Great Britain so far, and that there is nothing problematic about the vaccines that are being produced in that factory, he said.

Badnjevic also spoke about the delay in vaccine procurement in Bosnia, arguing that he is “disappointed” but “not surprised.”

“Our administration and government had high hopes for the Covax program, which it could have expected will have a setback, after a delay in production was announced,” he said, explaining that other countries have “lobbied and procured” vaccines directly, “and we in BiH have not made any effort to procure them that way.”

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