The controversy of the close-circuit vaccination centres and of the Covid testing reports

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After the Health ministry had released statistics about the Covid tests and vaccination centers for each county in Romania, the coordinator of the vaccination campaign Valeriu Gheorghita asked PM Florin Citu to start an inquiry, arguing that before releasing these data, the ministry should have taken some permits.

After the Health minister’s move, the mass media and civil society went further on, pointing to the existence of a real parallel vaccination system in Bucharest and other counties. More precisely they claim that, besides the official vaccination centres published on the online appointment platform, there are many other close-circuit centres, allegedly destined to the national security staff, meaning employees from the Interior and Defence ministries or those in the intelligence sector.

According to an analysis by Buletin de București, there are 48 vaccination centres in Bucharest, but only 11 of them are available on the vaccination platform.

On Tuesday, PM Florin Citu said that the reason he had been notified over the release of the information by the Health Ministry is the compliance with the law on releasing data related to the number of COVID tests. The PM agrees with the information about the pandemic becoming public, but argued that that this data “must be provided legally and with the necessary permits”.

On Wednesday, the premier resumed the topic, arguing that, by releasing data about vaccination, an idea was being shaped in the public opinion that some people who were not eligible for vaccination had taken the jab. “I don’t think these accusations are real. Those who released the data should explain that“, Citu stated.

In retort, Health minister Vlad Voiculescu said that there is no need for the intelligence services’ permit to publish information regarding the number of COVID-19 tests for each county, as they refer to the expenditure of public money, which “should be transparent and public”.

“The idea that the number of test in a county would be a state secret or something is totally wrong (…) Data are public. Some information might be corrected, but this is the whole point behind transparency, including the public might notice some inadvertence, but if we hide data and pretending that some would be secret is a deeply harmful thing for the democracy of a country“, Voiculescu pointed out.

The Health minister has released all data regarding the Covid tests and the incidence of testing in each county, which pointed to huge gaps between counties on testing against coronavirus: some counties have tested thousands of people, like Timis and Cluj, while others are reported with just tens of tests, like Braila or Teleorman.

Governmental sources said that, by releasing these testing reports, minister Voiculescu would have intended to resume an older topic, of people allegedly “slipping the line” to get vaccinated.

The coordinator of the national vaccination campaign, Valeriu Gheorghiță, said on Tuesday that by releasing data about the vaccination campaign without a previous approval or validation there can be errors that might prompt wrong assumptions that some people are taking the anti-Covid jab outside the vaccination platform.

“There are no people vaccinated outside the platform. All vaccinated people are in the national register. We have persons excepted from the appointment through the platform: the people in the social centres, the teaching staff, the healthcare workers, homeless people, persons scheduled for transplants, etc,” said Valeriu Gheorghiță.

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