Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic wants to help his home country of Bosnia and Herzegovina in any way he can, especially amidst a pandemic.
He sees what’s going on in the United States with decreased cases but also a slight surge among people hesitant to get the vaccine and questioning the legitimacy of it. It’s a privilege of a developed nation.
As for Nurkic’s home, not as developed as the United States, he wants to bring the help needed to his country knowing it won’t be taken for granted.
“All these countries are suffering and you have the United States, obviously the No. 1 in the world, has the vaccines and people don’t want to get vaccinated,” Nurkic told ESPN.
Nearly 50% of the American population is fully vaccinated, per NBC News. Nurkic's country has had over 205,000 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, and 167 new cases in the past seven days.
As for Nurkic’s home country, only 4.9% of the country’s population of 470,000 is fully vaccinated, per Our World in Data. The country currently has a higher case fatality rate than America at 4.7%.
"They just have donations, but not enough to vaccinate the people," Nurkic says of his country. "I tried to buy it for the whole country. I figured out the money, the plan and everything. But we still can't do it.
"Even if we find vaccines, I guess United States laws say that until the American people are vaccinated, you can't sell it. So, I don't know what else to do. I really tried."
Help is needed across lesser developed nations because they don’t have resources and more importantly the funding to assist their people. Only 1% of low-income countries have received at least one dose.
Nurkic isn’t the first person to call upon developed nations to assist struggling countries to help beat COVID-19. For the pandemic to end, those who can must assist those who need help. The Blazers center has let it known his people will happily take the vaccine Americans neglect.
“I just feel like humanity has kind of failed, because all the countries around should get at least some of those vaccines, right?” he said.
COVID-19 hit Nurkic personally when his grandmother was diagnosed with it while he was in the bubble. She beat the virus after 17 days only to succumb to a heart attack two days later.
The devastating news hit him while he was on the team bus heading to a game.
"At that point, I wished I could just take a plane to go to the funeral," he says. "Probably, if I could do it again, I would do that. It's difficult when you're really far away."