Serbia reaches one million vaccines with help of AI framework

Serbia has adopted an approval mechanism for vaccinations, giving citizens the option to choose which vaccine they want to get and in which location they want to get vaccinated.

This makes Serbia the only country in the world where citizens can choose the vaccine type, between shots from Pfizer-BioNTech, China’s Sinopharm or Russia’s Sputnik.

According to Vukasin Grozdic, advisor to the prime minister, the effectiveness of this vaccination framework approach has largely been down to their decision to “heavily rely on technology.”

The vaccination campaign was planned and prepared in advance with technology in mind, before the first shipment was received in December 2020.

Serbia reengineered the process by building a software that sped up each phase by three times, while also taking into consideration citizens’ preferences. They have also implemented a new vaccine delivery scheduling digital platform called the ‘System for immunisation management of the Republic of Serbia’ which helps monitor the immunisation of each citizen in real-time.

The platform integrates primary healthcare centres, vaccination sites, the National Institute of Public Health, several government agencies and the National e-Government Portal, facilitating information sharing, interoperability and governance between organisations. 

WHY IT MATTERS

In the Balkan country of seven million people, there have been 400,000 people infected by COVID-19 and 4,056 have died.

According to Our World Data collated earlier this month, Serbia was ranked seventh globally and second in Europe on the list of countries with the most people vaccinated against COVID-19 globally.  

Over one million people in Serbia have now received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

They have since donated 4,680 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to neighbouring country North Macedonia, which has struggled to secure vaccines.

THE LARGER CONTEXT

The prime minister of Serbia, Ana Brnabic stated that they opted for the unique approach to give Serbia’s citizens the freedom to choose as a means to increase public trust and consequently boost the immunisation rate.

Brnabic explained: “This solution is in fact a result of the extensive focus we put on digitalisation for the past four years. Digital government and digital education, along with digitalisation of the economy are the core of our mandate.” 

Meanwhile, according to Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel has acted as a ‘global model state’ for a rapid vaccination programme of an entire country. Last month, the country committed to sending Pfizer statistical data and details in exchange for COVID-19 vaccine doses.

Last week, Israel and Greece signed a deal to allow people who are vaccinated against the virus to travel freely between the two countries in an effort to boost their economy.

At the beginning of the year, Bahrain became the first country to allow vaccination appointments via a smartphone app. The country has the second highest vaccination rate in the world after Israel with a reported rate of 3.49 vaccinations doses per 100 individuals. Bahrain recently became one of the first countries in the world to launch a digital COVID-19 “vaccine passport”.

ON THE RECORD

Peter Janjic, Serbia’s deputy secretary general told Forbes: “Upon consultation with these countries, it became clear to us that success could only be achieved using the right organisation assisted by the right technology. Our team led by the prime minister secured a flawless organisation and strong coordination across many different stakeholders. We then sketched a supporting technological solution to manage the immunisation process. Developed only in weeks by our local teams, the information system provided for seamless automation of the process.” 

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