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Argentine health minister resigns amid vaccine scandal

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The dismissal follows reports in recent days that mayors, lawmakers, activists and people close to political power received the vaccines, despite not being in the priority group of doctors, health personnel and the elderly authorized to receive them.

In a Twitter post, Gonzlez Garcia said he accepted the presidents’ request to resign, but insisted he was forced to leave due to a misunderstanding. He said the vaccinated people belong to groups involved in the current campaign target population.

Carla Vizzotti, the No. 2 official in the ministry under Gonzlez Garca, will take over as minister, the state-run Tlam news agency said.

Riots in Argentina following riots in Peru last week after it was confirmed that more than 400 political officials and other prominent people, including then-President Martn Vizcarra, secretly received doses of the vaccine produced by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinopharm in front of professionals of health.

Gonzlez Garcia’s departure came after journalist Horacio Verbitsky, whose stories and columns on a website and radio are seen as pro-government, said he called the minister to seek a vaccination and Gonzlez Garca called him to the Ministry of Health where a Sputnik V vaccine got shot on Thursday.

I decided to get vaccinated. I started to figure out where to do it. I called my old friend Gins Gonzlez Garca, whom I knew long before he was a minister, Verbitsky told a local radio station. I went to the ministry and the vaccination team was there.

The Fernndndez government has been sharply criticized for its slow vaccination operation in Argentina. So far, the South American country has received about 1.5 million doses, mostly Sputnik V but also AstraZeneca, insufficient to immunize a population of 40 million.

Argentina has had 2 million people infected with the coronavirus and 50,857 deaths from COVID-19.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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