Latvian government considers making Covid-19 express tests voluntary

Due to the general confusion among Latvian residents when it comes to Covid-19 antigen self-test and their distribution, parties of the ruling coalition plan to meet and discuss making them voluntary, as reported by Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš’s press-secretary Sandris Sabajevs.
According to Sabajevs, according to the information available to the PM, law enforcement institutions have started looking into the procurement of Covid-19 express self-tests from SIA Ekpress laboratorija, which was organise by the National Defence Logistics and Procurement Centre (VALIC). Representatives of the PM stress that all procurements performed during Covid-19 pandemic are monitored by controlling institutions.
The PM believes a wider adoption of Covid-19 antigen self-tests is a safety measure that would help uncover infections early, which is especially important now, considering the recent surge of infections.
The current regulations in Latvia provide for people employed in jobs that require close contacts with other workers or customers to undergo regular Covid-19 testing at least twice a week using antigen tests.
This requirement extends to all employed people – both vaccinated and non-vaccinated.
On 9 November VALIC announced a price survey for the procurement of Covid-19 antigen self-tests in accordance with the technical specifications prepared by the Ministry of Health. A total of 30 offers were received.
In the end the decision was made in favour of commencing cooperation with Ekspress laboratorija, Brief, ADDO Defense, A-birojs and A.Medical.
The price range of those offers was from 0.75 to 1.25 EUR per test. Supplies were proposed to commence within five to 20 days after the signing of the contract.
Ekspress laboratorija was picked the winner of this procurement. The delivery term for the first four million tests sets is five days. The total price is EUR 3 million (no VAT).
Politicians and resident alike were confused over this choice because Ekpress laboratorija was registered in March 2021. Representatives of the Ministry of Defence tried explaining that the company was checked in databases of international sanctions before the choice was made, adding that this company was picked because of the low price and quick delivery term.
Shortly after the victory in the procurement the list of owners of Ekspress laboratorija changed – before the end of November Jeļena Putviķe, Toms Binde and Sergejs Ļebedevs. As of 24 November, however, Ļebedevs is no longer among the company’s co-owners. Putviķe has increased her share in the company from 33.33% to 66.67%. Binde still owns 33.33%, according to information from