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Argentine police raid ministry in vaccine scandal

Authorities seize cameras, records at Health Ministry

Bala Chambers   | 23.02.2021
Argentine police raid ministry in vaccine scandal File Photo

LONDON

Police in Argentina seized security cameras and entry records from the Ministry of Health as investigators probe alleged abuse by officials concerning the coronavirus vaccine.

Media reports said Judge Maria Eugenia Capuchetti ordered the search Monday that lasted more than two hours into events between Feb. 1 - 19, when several officials are believed to have been vaccinated outside established protocols, receiving preferential and expedited access to the vaccine.

Reports said complaints were made that doses were allegedly supplied in an irregular manner -- separated from the official distribution circuit and not following a national vaccine plan outlined by the government.

Argentina has been prioritizing the vaccination of frontline medical workers in the battle against the virus and has started to vaccinate older age groups.

The government published a list of 70 individuals they say received preferential treatment ahead of Argentineans.

The list includes key figures, including former President Eduardo Duhalde, several trade unionists, ministers and secretaries.

The government clarified that ministers with "strategic functions" qualify to be vaccinated.

Former Health Minister Gines Gonzalez Garcia allegedly set up exclusive VIP access to the benefit of some and was forced to resign after a public confession from journalist Horacio Verbitsky.

Verbitsky confirmed he received the Russian vaccine after speaking to his "old friend" Gonzalez Garcia.

President Alberto Fernandez asked for Gonzalez Garcia's resignation last week after it was reported.

The scandal has been labeled "VIP Vaccination" by the media after the government pledged that vaccines would be distributed equitably.

Argentina, with a population of more than 45 million, has registered an excess of 2 million infections and over 51,000 deaths, according to data from US-based Johns Hopkins University​​​​​​​.

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