Lithuanian prosecutors open probe into purchase, disposal of COVID-19 vaccines

  • 2024-05-15
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuanian Prosecutor General Nida Grunskiene has ordered the opening of a pre-trial investigation to determine whether the purchase of a large quantity of COVID-19 vaccines at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, and the subsequent disposal of some of them without use constituted a criminal offense.

The probe was launched on Tuesday based on the Criminal Code's articles on abuse of office and squandering of property, the Prosecutor General's Office said on Wednesday.

The move comes after prosecutors refused to apply public interest measures in a public interest probe opened last December. They said in their decision that the circumstances established during the investigation should be "assessed in terms of possible criminal offenses".

According to the prosecutors, Lithuania purchased COVID-19 vaccines from five different manufacturers through centralized procurement procedures initiated and organized by the European Commission, with states agreeing in advance to buy a certain quantity of vaccines on a pro rata basis. 

Accordingly, Lithuania purchased over 11 million vaccine doses for more than 230 million euros, of which around 2.5 million doses were subsequently disposed of due to expiration and other reasons.

The estimated value of the destroyed vaccines is 46.5 million euros, the Prosecutor General's office said in the press release.

The prosecutors refused to apply public interest measures because the vaccines were purchased and delivered under contracts concluded with the manufacturers by the European Commission under Belgian law, and because no other legal basis was found for initiating civil proceedings, it said.