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Kosovo receives first COVID-19 vaccines through Covax programme

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Airport personal unload the first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines sent from the Covax facility.
Airport personal unload the first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines sent from the Covax facility.   -   Copyright  STR/Arben Llapashtica via AP Photo
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Kosovo has received its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines through the Covax system.

Authorities say they have been given 24,000 doses of the AstraZeneca jab to begin the country's vaccination rollout.

Staff began unloading the vaccines at Adem Jashari international airport at the capital, Pristina on Sunday night.

Kosovo which is the last country in Europe to start its vaccination rollout, and says it will start inoculating medical personnel, elderly citizens people, and those with chronic diseases.

"We need much more and fast," Prime Minister Albin Kurti told reports as the first vaccines arrived.

"Our country is small and poor, so it needs support and solidarity, especially from the United States and the European Union."

Kosovo, with a population of 1.8 million, is facing a sharp rise in coronavirus infections.

The country's health ministry has reported 87,981 total confirmed cases and 1,840 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

In total, Kosovo's government has ordered 100,000 doses of vaccine from Covax and hopes to have vaccinated 60% of its population by the end of the year.

The UN-backed Covax programme is designed to ship coronavirus vaccines to those in need, in low- and middle-income countries.

But the CEO of the Vaccine Alliance has expressed disappointment about supply delays and says deliveries to key health workers have been set back weeks.

Albania has begun inoculating medical professionals in neighbouring Kosovo to help the Balkan country in the fight against the pandemic.