“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 has justified, to the left-wing daily Pagina 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. “
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” (“Vacuna” 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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