President Gitanas Nausėda has suggested that the government intentionally paced its vaccination effort so as to humiliate him.
After signing into law a provision that will give senior citizens 100-euro payouts for getting vaccinated against Covid-19, Nausėda commented on Thursday that Lithuania’s vaccination results would have been better if incentives were adopted earlier.
“But it is what it is, and we need to remember that we practically missed the first half of the summer, when, I do not know for what reasons, the pace of vaccination was artificially slowed down,” the president said from Brussels.
“Maybe it was done to miss the president’s target of vaccinating 70 percent of the population by mid-July,” he added.
Nausėda previously said that Lithuania would vaccinate 70 percent of its adult population by the Statehood Day on July 6. The target, however, was reached in early September.
Currently, almost 1.787 million people, or 63.9 percent of the entire population, have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in Lithuania.
Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė's office has refrained from commenting on the president's allegations.
“Out of respect for the president's institution, the prime minister will not comment,” her spokeswoman Rasa Jakilaitienė told the Elta news agency on Friday.
Šimonytė herself is currently on a visit to the United Arab Emirates.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Arūnas Dulkys said the vaccination pace was slower in many European countries over the summer.
“People's willingness to get vaccinated slowed down over the summer in most of the European Union. After the previous wave had been put under control and there were fewer new infection cases, some people erroneously concluded that the risk of falling ill was smaller. And thus, unfortunately, postponed vaccination,” Dulkys said in a comment.