Tuesday, February 23, 2021

vaccination scandals are on the rise in South America


“It was with a heavy heart that I asked him to resign, but what he did is unforgivable” : it is in these terms that the Argentine President Alberto Fernandez justified, to the left-wing daily Page 12, his decision to dismiss his Minister of Health. Ginés Gonzalez García left his post on Friday 19 February, an inevitable consequence of the so-called “VIP vaccinations” scandal, which revolts public opinion.

It all started, the same day, with an interview, on El Destape radio, with journalist Horacio Verbitsky (79 years old): “I decided to get vaccinated. I looked for where I could do it, and I called my old friend Ginés Gonzalez García who told me that I had to go to Posadas hospital [en banlieue de Buenos Aires] (…). As I was about to go there, I received a message from Ginés’s secretary saying that a team from Posadas was coming to the ministry and that I could get vaccinated there. “

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The confession was like a thunderclap. “My 75-year-old neighbor can’t even make an appointment, and Ginés distributes vaccines on request”, indignant a young Argentinian on Twitter. In the hours that followed, the newspapers revealed that others close to the Peronist government had been inoculated with a first dose of Sputnik V – the Russian vaccine chosen primarily by Argentina – without waiting for their turn: the trade unionist Hugo Moyano, his wife and one of his sons, or the mayor, 38, of a town in the south of the country and his driver …

Appointed to replace Mr. Gonzalez García, the new Minister Carla Vizzotti, an infectious disease specialist by training, said that this was a situation “Exceptional and deplorable” and refuted the existence of a “VIP vaccination center” within the ministry. But while the vaccination campaign is advancing at a very moderate pace in the country (as of February 21, less than 460,000 people, out of 45 million inhabitants, had received a first dose), the case is a serious blow to the government credibility.

“Vacunagate” in Peru

On the subcontinent, Peru is shaken by an even more serious scandal: the “vacunagate” (” vaccine “ means “vaccine” in Spanish) cost the Minister of Health and Minister of Foreign Affairs their posts. Both are part of some 500 personalities who had unofficial access to the Covid-19 vaccine as of October 2020.

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