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Latvian anti-graft cops suspect interest in fake vaccination

The Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) has picked up signals of possible interest in counterfeit vaccine certificates. Family doctors say it's unthinkable, LSM's Russian language service reported June 2.

“Questions are starting to come in whether I can't produce a bogus Covid vaccination fact and certificate. It's a crime, of course. But if there is demand, there is also an offer somewhere,” family doctor Gundega Skruze-Janava wrote on Twitter on May 26.

Two people had asked about bogus vaccines in the last three weeks, Skruze-Janava told Rus.lsm.lv. According to her, these people have not explained their motivation. One of them was actually vaccinated, the other said they would look elsewhere. Skruze-Janava has about 1,300 patients. She said these two weren't even “written down” in her doctor's practice.

“It is difficult to judge how widespread this problem can be, or whether these are individual rare cases,” said the family doctor.

“But people who don't want to get vaccinated, but they want to travel freely, for example, probably are there. Privileges  — that is the main motivation for them.”

In theory, the presence of an independent observer in vaccinations should be ensured, she said, immediately adding that it is unrealistic. Another option: all vaccinated should undergo an antibody test, but there is a catch: there are known cases where antibodies do not develop after vaccination. So eliminating it completely seems impossible. Only random checks like the police do,” the family doctor said.

KNAB has seen a number of signals in the public room, which could indicate a possible interest in counterfeiting of the vaccination fact or certificate, KNAB told Rus.lsm.lv. The KNAB has paid attention to all these signals, but it has not yet seen a basis to launch tests or criminal proceedings in relation to vaccination against Covid-19. The KNAB does not rule out the possibility of such cases, as there are high risks of corruption in the healthcare sector.

The Latvian Association of General Practitioners and the Rural Family Doctors Association say that this remark from KNAB is the first time hearing of such possibility.

“You are the first to find out that there are such questions. No, I think no doctor will sign anything like that. How can I document what really hasn't happened? If there are, indeed, specific cases, the Health Inspectorate and the Ministry of Health should be clear about them. This is a punishable case. Strange, strange,” said Sarmīte Veide, head of the Latvian Association of General Practitioners.

“If a doctor or one of the medical practitioners agrees to carry out such illegal activities, they may be treated as claiming or receiving potential illegal benefits,” explained the anti-corruption bureau. According to the Criminal Law, employees of State and local government medical institutions may be punished not only by forced labor or fines, but also by temporary deprivation of liberty or even deprivation of liberty for up to three years by a court judgment. For the person who gave the bribe, the law provides for the same punishments but up to two years of imprisonment.

“If a doctor provides such a “service” not for bribe but for free, it can be treated as counterfeiting of documents,” explained the Bureau. If such cases are observed, KNAB calls to report them by phone 80002070, sending information electronically to [email protected] or in the mobile application “Ziņo KNAB”.

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