With regard to the Covid-19 vaccination, the gap between European and European ethnic groups finally appears to have narrowed, after months where most of the southeastern part of the continent appears to be lying in the dead zone, just get iconic deliveries and overflows. promises from Brussels.
For a fair overview, it is best to divide the region into three segments, separating the EU member states of Croatia, Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece from the so-called West Balkans, all of which are not. is an EU member. The EU member states are making slow but steady progress in vaccination, as EU-sourced supplies become increasingly available. In some of these countries, the Astra Zeneca vaccine has attracted less attention to citizens than expected, increasing the overall dependence on supplies from Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna.
Among the West Balkans, Serbia’s outstanding performance as the regional immunization leader ranks the country as a separate category, as its immunization level exceeds that of most EU member states. in the region and for many months. Serbia has used a combination of Chinese and Russian vaccines with very small Western vaccine shipments. As New Europe’s readers will recall, so far, Serbia has been able to administer approximately 44 doses per 100 of the population and has also engaged in “vaccine diplomacy” by donating useful quantities to countries. neighboring former Yugoslav Republic and vaccinated some tourists from those countries, in this taking back some stature as a regional leader.
Five other countries in the West Balkan – Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Kosovo have failed to succeed in their mass vaccination programs but are starting to move forward with small shipments from suppliers. Western or even contributions from interested countries. In Bosnia, a shortage of vaccines has led to street protests.
The World Health Organization has established a global vaccine distribution system called COVAX, to help poorer countries have access to supplies. Despite being slow to take the first steps, some initial COVAX shipments reached various Western Balkan capitals to gain prominence by the end of March. The EU supported and sponsored COVAX in first phase parallel with its own program, as well as some other major donor countries.
EU coordination is given to Austria
Austria is acting as the coordinator for an EU vaccine-sharing system covering the West Balkans, announced earlier this year. Accordingly, Vienna announced on April 20 that it would send 651,000 doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to six countries in the West Balkan by August and most likely to follow. Explaining the program, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said, “With this initiative, we are showing that we are not leaving the region behind.”
Greece made less progress than expected
Meanwhile, on the southern edge of the region, EU member Greece is doing its best to contain the pandemic. Unfortunately, the actual progress reports and foreign reviews do not match the current government’s claim that a pandemic victory is imminent and the country will be safe for tourists starting from the May 14, a day that many experts think is too early to open the door for tourism. The level of infection remains high.
While Covid-19 load in major metropolitan areas is nearly stable at near record highs, a visible downward trend will support upbeat government assessments that have yet to be recorded. The high recharge rates and the relentless pressure on the health system are in stark contrast to the Mitsotakis government’s plan to gradually reopen the economy that has already begun partially in many sectors but will accelerate. after the Greek Orthodox Easter holiday ends on May 3, outside dining will be allowed again.
As EU-procured supplies arrive, vaccination programs are accelerating but as of April 22, only 785,000 (about 7.3%) of Greece’s current population has received two doses of the vaccine. now available. The Greek government also reports an average of 25 doses administered per 100 people. Although a respectable figure for Southeast Europe, it is close to the EU average and much lower than the Serbian equivalent (44 doses per hundred people) using a mixture of vaccines. applicants from China, the West and Russia.
While the Mitsotakis government’s tourism promotion efforts continued unabated, the government loosened quarantine requirements for travelers who previously needed negative virus testing plus quarantine periods. after arrival. From now on, the EU, Israel, US, UK, Serbia and some other nationalities visitors will be able to enter Greece with only negative tests or other immunization documents without quarantine. . However, the current door lock rules will apply to all tourists, reducing the attractiveness of a visit before the “official” opening in May when most door lock rules will be suspended.
Confidence has not yet been established
Due to the high viral load, some countries have questioned the Greek government’s claims it is possible to ensure a safe environment for tourists at this time. Neighboring country Albania imposed strict 14-day quarantine requirements on all visitors from Greece and North Macedonia on April 19, making it clear that Tirana did not accept guarantees of Greek denominations. Greek. Last year, Greece imposed strict controls on the number of visitors from Albania.
Even more painful for Athens is the April 20 (for Covid-19) travel notice issued by the US Department of State that reads “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued the Notice Health Travel Level 4 for Greece due to COVID-19, shows very high levels of COVID-19 in the country. Visit the embassy COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Greece. ”
For unexplained reasons, this message was not released to US citizens in Greece or the local media until April 22. It is extremely unfortunate that advice from Washington came almost at the same time as Greece’s quarantine requirement for US tourists was loosened but in a rapidly changing Environment Pass Signals is not unusual.