Argentina’s new health minister promises fair access to vaccines after a scandal


© Reuters. Minister of Health Access of the Argentine Ministry of Health, Carla Vizzotti, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Buenos Aires, Argentina


BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina’s new Health Minister Carla Vizzotti was sworn in on Saturday after the country was rocked by a VIP coronavirus vaccine access scandal that pledged to strengthen oversight and transparency of the vaccination program.

Her predecessor resigned Friday after reports that people were able to use connections to get priority access to COVID-19 vaccines, putting pressure on the center-left government of President Alberto Fernandez.

“We will strengthen the instruments and measures that ensure fair access to vaccines and monitor compliance with the planned process,” wrote Vizzotti, 47, doctor and specialist in infectious diseases, after taking office on Twitter.

“It is the President’s decision that we should implement the largest vaccination schedule in our history at the greatest speed and give every Argentine the assurance that all vaccines are administered according to strict hygiene criteria.”

The Argentine Public Prosecutor for Administrative Inquiries has launched an investigation into possible abuses of power by former Minister Gines Gonzalez Garcia, who in his resignation letter blamed “confusion” in his office.

The South American country of around 45 million people has so far received around 1.22 million doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine and 580,000 doses of the Covishield vaccine manufactured by the Indian Serum Institute.

The scandal echoes one in Peru earlier this month that resulted in the resignation of a number of ministers after it was found that around 500 people had been secretly given early vaccines.

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