Friday

12th Aug 2022

Romania: Instead of a free jab, they buy fake certificates

  • The Romanian border police found people with fake Covid certificates, while vaccinations are available and free. (Photo: www.politiadefrontiera.ro)

While Covid-19 vaccines are readily available in Romania, some shun the jabs but not the certificates received only after getting fully inoculated.

In order to escape quarantine, travel freely, or enter public events that require attendees to be inoculated, some Romanians are willing to pay for the fake vaccination certificates.

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In a complaint sent by the Romanian health ministry to the general prosecutor's office, the ministry warns about several cases of Romanians who, in exchange for money, received such certificates without being immunised.

Healthcare institutions across the country sounded the alarm over the issue, notifying the ministry of health about the attempt of some Romanian citizens to obtain the EU Digital Covid Certificate using false vaccination documents.

The EU Digital Covid Certificate entered into application on 1 July 2021. The certificate is proof that the person has either been vaccinated, received a negative test result, or recovered from Covid-19.

After a few days into the new EU Digital Covid certificates being implemented in Romania, several attempts to fake the vaccination paper emerged.

First, in Alba county, a vaccination center issued certificates for people who had not actually been vaccinated there, according to the police report.

The doctor allegedly stated in the medical papers that the unused doses had in fact been administered to several people allowing them to get the fake vaccination certificates, which were then used for the Covid certificates.

Alba county's department of public health representatives notified the police after the unused doses were discovered. The case is currently under investigation and a police search is carried out at the vaccination center.

In a separate case, in Timisoare, a county in western Romania, several people pretended to be employees of a vaccination centre and announced on the internet that they could obtain immunisation certificates for the amount of €100. Authorities have launched an investigation.

Romanian border police also uncovered 12 Romanians who returned from UK with false certificates, bearing the insignia of English health authorities, as proof of having recovered from Covid-19, thus allowing them to dodge quarantine upon their return to Romania.

According to the border police's press release, "the 12 Romanians with the fake Covid certificates stated that they got the documents with the help of various individuals, whose identity they do not know, paying a sum of £30 [€35] each".

Document forgery is a crime punishable by up to three years in prison.

Over the last month, at national level, the border police discovered 69 Romanians who tried to return to the country using false or forged certificates.

On 9 August, Hunedoara county department of public health launched an investigation after suspicions that false Covid certificates had been issued. The investigation looks into several doctors issuing fake certificates in exchange for payment.

The various cases of Romanian citizens trying to get the vaccination certificate without having to actually get the jab calls into question the inoculation program carried out by authorities.

Romania is one of the least vaccinated country in the EU, with around 25 percent of the population receiving at least one dose of vaccine.

At EU level, only Bulgaria is in a worse spot, with 17.3 percent of its population vaccinated.

Lack of trust in the government

Speaking to EUobserver, sociologist Stefan Bruno explained why some Romanians do not want to get the Covid-19 vaccine.

"Anti-vaccination propaganda is very strong and has gained many followers, amid a poor organisation to counter it by the Romanian authorities. Throughout south-eastern Europe we see vaccination campaigns that are not going well," he said.

"The people shunning the vaccines but looking for ways to benefit from vaccination certificates are those who do not trust the government-run inoculation campaign, or believe that vaccines are not sufficiently tested, or that the pandemic does not exist, or who regard vaccination as contrary to their religion ideas", Bruno added.

As vaccination numbers drop, Romanian authorities sold an excess of around 2m vaccines and donated close to another 1m to avoid unused stocks from hitting their expiration date.

This comes at a time when a new wave of the more-contagious Delta variant of the virus is sweeping across Europe, as well as an ongoing debate about higher vaccines prices.

Author bio

Cristian Gherasim is a freelance journalist contributing to EUobserver, Euronews, EU Reporter, Katoikos, Von Mises Institute, and bne IntelliNews, with a particular focus on European and regional affairs.

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