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World

Argentina has new health chief after vaccine line-jumping scandal

  • Local media reported that other people close to the government were also vaccinated at the health ministry.
Published February 21, 2021
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BUENOS AIRES: Argentina's new health minister took office on Saturday following the resignation of her predecessor after he was caught helping friends skip the line for Covid-19 vaccinations.

Carla Vizzotti, an internal medicine specialist, was sworn in by President Alberto Fernandez at the presidential residence in a brief ceremony broadcast on television. She did not issue a statement afterward or take questions from the media.

As a former deputy minister, Vizzotti, 48, was responsible for securing the Russian Sputnik V vaccine for Argentina.

Former health minister Gines Gonzalez Garci resigned late Friday after it emerged that the 75-year-old doctor had aided acquaintances in getting vaccinated ahead of their turn.

The scandal broke after a 71-year-old journalist, Horacio Verbitsky, announced on the radio that, owing to his longstanding friendship with the minister, he had been able to get vaccinated in his office ahead of the general population.

So far only health workers have been vaccinated in Argentina and vaccinations for people aged over 70 only began on Wednesday in the province of Buenos Aires.

Local media reported that other people close to the government were also vaccinated at the health ministry.

The Public Prosecutor's Office has opened an investigation, local press reported.

So far Argentina has received 1.2 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine and 580,000 of Covishield from the Serum Institute of India.

The country has recorded more than two million cases of Covid-19 and 51,000 deaths, out of a population of 44 million people.

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