Bulgaria’s Health Minister halts procedure to buy 12.5M Covid tests for pupils

Bulgaria’s Health Minister Assena Serbezova has terminated a procedure to buy 12.5 million rapid antigen tests for school pupils and will launch a new one, according to a statement by the ministry on January 11.

The invitation to bid to supply the tests, for pupils from the first to 12th grades, was published on the Health Ministry’s website on December 30.

In November 2021, Bulgaria began the resumption of in-person classes for schools pupils, on condition of regular testing for Covid-19.

The statement said that the termination of the procedure is a consequence of an inspection carried out by the Internal Audit Directorate at the request of Serbezova.

In their report to Serbezova, the inspectors said that they had found shortcomings in the organisation of the procedure.

All documents available in the Ministry of Health related to this procedure will be submitted to the anti-corruption commission, the statement said

“By the end of this week, in compliance with maximum transparency and ensuring equality of participants, the Ministry of Health will publish a new invitation to purchase the required number of tests,” the ministry said.

It is envisaged that representatives of the Ministry of Education will also be on the commission that prepares the requirements for the participants and reviews the received offers.

As The Sofia Globe reported at the time, Bulgaria’s anti-corruption body said on January 4 that it had referred to prosecutors the findings of its investigation into procedures in 2021 for buying rapid antigen tests for school pupils, having found evidence of corruption.

Those procedures were launched at the time that Stoicho Katsarov was caretaker health minister. Katsarov has denied wrongdoing and has described those procedures as “flawless”.

(Photo: Health Ministry)

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