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NIK on National Vaccination Program against COVID-19: Gross mismanagement and risky decisions.

MedExpress Team

Piotr Wójcik

Published Sept. 28, 2023 15:30

NIK on National Vaccination Program against COVID-19: Gross mismanagement and risky decisions. - Header image
fot. Piotr Wójcik
Some of the decisions to purchase COVID-19 vaccines were grossly wasteful actions, according to the Supreme Audit Office. The inspections carried out by the Supreme Audit Office also showed a lack of reaction or reactions that were a year late to signals of quality defects in two batches of preparations that reached the Polish market.

The Supreme Audit Institution evaluated the National Immunization Program, whose strategic goal was to achieve a level of immunization of the population to bring the pandemic under control by the end of 2021, while maintaining the highest safety standards.

Referring to the audit conducted at the Health Ministry, the auditors found that the head of the ministry decided to proceed with seven contracts for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines, which allowed the contracting of 201 million doses of vaccines with an estimated value of just under PLN 14 billion. The Supreme Audit Institution negatively assessed the contracting of a portion of the vaccines, with an estimated value of 8.4 billion zlotys.

- The rationale for such an assessment was that the Minister of Health, despite having contracted 109 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine at the end of April 2021, which had already enabled the entire Polish population to be vaccinated several times, concluded three more contracts from May to November 2021 for the purchase of an additional 92 million doses of COVID 19 vaccine, with an estimated value of the aforementioned PLN 8.4 billion. According to the NIK, the above actions should have been assessed as grossly wasteful. The decision to purchase the questioned vaccine doses was made by the Health Minister on his own, despite having information that the vaccination rate was being reduced, said Michal Jedrzejczyk, counselor to the NIK president, during the presentation of the report on the matter.

The Supreme Audit Institution also noted that, according to the Ministry of Health's explanations, entry into one of the three contested contracts was for political, rather than substantive, reasons. The COVID procurement team did not recommend the purchase of the vaccine from this manufacturer, pointing out, among other things, the technology of its development.

- Nevertheless, due to the information from the European Commission that Poland is the only country that would not opt to join the future contract with this manufacturer, the Minister of Health, due to the sensitive and internationally political dimension of this issue, accepted to join this order," indicated Michal Jedrzejczyk.

The contracting of excess vaccine doses, according to the NIK auditors, resulted, among other things, in the out-of-date and consequent disposal of more than 13 million doses of vaccines, with an estimated value of more than PLN 900 million. In addition, in order to reduce the effects of over-purchasing vaccines, attempts were made to dispose of or donate them, and by December last year the Government Strategic Reserve Agency had transferred more than 27 million doses of vaccines to other countries, with an estimated value of one 1.4 billion zlotys. In total, more than 40 million doses of vaccines with an estimated value of PLN 2.3 billion were disposed of, disposed of or donated, accounting for more than 20 percent of all contracted vaccine doses to Poland.

The General Pharmaceutical Inspectorate's supervision of the NPS was also audited. As the NIK found, 17 pharmaceutical wholesalers were involved in the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. Despite the fact that the National Vaccine Program placed the GIF, as the authority responsible for the country's pharmaceutical security, under a specific supervision obligation, according to the findings of the NIK, the Chief Pharmaceutical Inspectorate had no knowledge of which pharmaceutical wholesaler...

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