Covid 19 - Pandemic
When the European Union launched its mass vaccination campaign, non-member Bosnia struggled along with most other Balkan nations to get supplies. By late spring, however, hundreds of thousands of doses started pouring into the country.
But after an initial rush of people clamoring to get jabbed, demand for shots quickly slowed. It is now down to a trickle even though Bosnia has Europe’s highest coronavirus mortality rate at 4.5%, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Dr. Edin Drljevic, an infectious disease specialist at one of Bosnia’s largest hospitals, in Sarajevo, thinks the disconnect is partly a result of authorities failing to properly promote vaccination against COVID-19.
“At first, we only had negative publicity because of the failure to secure vaccines, but once the vaccines finally started arriving, mainly through donations, people became picky,” he said.
So far, just under 13% of Bosnia’s 3.3 million people have been fully vaccinated, among the lowest shares in Europe. Even people willing to get inoculated are putting off shots so they can choose the vaccine they want instead of receiving whichever one is available.
Bosnia has reported close to 240,000 confirmed cases and more than 10,500 deaths in the pandemic. Savic asserts the figures are inflated, arguing incorrectly that that molecular PCR tests — the primary method for diagnosing COVID-19 — produce a huge number of false positives.
“Unfortunately, I have the impression that we are simply letting anti-vaccination lobbies and movements highjack the public debate and spread misinformation that discourages people from getting immunized,” Bakir Nakas, a retired infectious disease specialist, said.