Russians travel to Serbia in search of western covid vaccines

When the russian regulators they approved the vaccine against him coronavirus developed in the country was a moment of National proud, and the Pavlov family were among those who rushed to receive the injection.

But the authorities of health international they have not yet given their blessing to Sputnik V.

That is why when the Rostov-on-Don family wanted to travel to the West, they looked for one that would allow them to move freely, a crusade that led them to Serbia, where hundreds of Russian citizens have come in recent weeks to receive drugs against the covid-19 that have the approval of the western authorities.

Serbia, which is not part of the European Union, is an appropriate choice for Russians who want to get vaccinated because they do not need a visa to enter the allied Balkan nation, which offers them a wide range of options.

Organized trips for Russians have increased, groups can be seen in the capital, Belgrade, in hotels, restaurants, bars and vaccination clinics.

We got the Pfizer vaccine because we want to travel around the world, “said Nadezhda Pavlova, 54, after receiving the injection last weekend at a busy center in Belgrade.

Her husband, Vitaly Pavlov, 55, said he wanted “the whole world to open up to us, not just a few countries.”

Vaccination packages for those seeking drugs endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO) appeared on the market in mid-September, according to the Association of Tour Operators of Russia.

The price of the trip ranges from $ 300 to $ 700, depending on what it includes, said Maya Lomidze, the group’s executive director.

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Introduced by President Vladimir Putin as the world’s first registered vaccine against COVID-19, Sputnik V appeared in August 2020 and has been licensed in some 70 countries, including Serbia.

But the WHO approval still under review for problems at a production plant a few months ago.

Long wait

A senior United Nations health agency official said on Friday that the legal problems that are delaying the drug’s review are “on the verge of being resolved,” a step that could relaunch the process toward authorization for its emergency use.

But the Russian proposal still has other obstacles, such as a lack of complete scientific information and inspections at manufacturing sites, said Dr. Mariangela Simao, WHO’s deputy director-general.

In addition to the WHO, Sputnik V is also waiting for the green light from the European Medicines Agency so that all restrictions can be lifted for those who have received this formula.

The long wait has frustrated many in Russia, so when the WHO announced another delay in September, they began looking elsewhere for solutions.

People don’t want to wait. People need to be able to enter Europe for various personal reasons, “explained Anna Filatovskaya, a spokeswoman for the Russky Express travel agency in Moscow.

Some have relatives. Some have businesses, others study or work. Some just want to go to Europe because they miss it, “he added.

Serbia, which is also an Orthodox and Slavic Christian nation, offers vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, and China’s Sinopharm.

By popular demand, Russian tourism agencies also offer trips to Croatia, where the Johnson & Johnson single-dose can be received, which means that they do not have to return for the second injection.

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