In Argentina, even the head of a human rights organization sneaked an earlier vaccination appointment. The Minister of Health had to go.
BUENOS AIRES taz | When the chairman of the respected human rights organization CELS, Horacio Verbitsky, chatted on the radio about his vaccination against Covid-19 some time ago, he caused tremors in Argentina at the end of last week.
“I called my old friend Gines González García, whom I knew long before he was Minister of Health, and he told me I had to go to Posadas Hospital. When I was about to leave, I received a message from his secretariat telling me to come to the ministry to have the vaccine, ”said the experienced journalist, who at the time was 79 years old and did not belong to any group of people priority on the government’s priority list.
The employees of the CELS were shocked. “We learned that the chairman of our organization was vaccinated off-route and through special relationships while we were all trying to get a vaccination appointment for the elders in our families,” they tweeted about the official account of the human rights organization. Their chairman’s behavior does not represent their work or attitudes, they added.
Verbitsky has since shown remorse. “It was a grave mistake that I regret and for which I apologize,” he confessed. He did not explain why the man who was washed with all journalistic skills went public at all. There are many indications that he only wanted to prevent the media from announcing his courtesy vaccination by the government-critical Clarín group. Because at least a day before his interview it became known that Clarín knew about the VIP vaccinations in the Ministry of Health and wanted to make a big splash.
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More and more details are now becoming known. 3,000 vaccine doses are said to have been reserved exclusively for the ministry. These were by no means reserved for possible emergencies. The previously known list of VIP vaccinated persons only contains the names of people who had no priority at the time of the vaccination.
The frustration of the medical staff is great. “We have been facing the virus every day for months and many of us still don’t have an appointment for a vaccination,” a hospital employee rumbled into the microphone on television.
President Alberto Fernández tried to limit the damage. As soon as the first details became public on Friday, he demanded the resignation of Health Minister Gines González García. On Saturday he took the oath from Carla Vizzotti as the new Minister of Health.
The 48-year-old infectiologist is well known to the Argentines. For almost a year, she has been informing the public about the current coronavirus situation at the morning press conferences of the Ministry of Health. It was also Vizzotti who flew to Moscow last year to negotiate deliveries of the Sputnik V vaccine with the Russian authorities.
Argentina is a pioneer in the region when it comes to using Sputnik V – the Russian vaccine has been used since the end of December. So far around 1.3 million cans have been flown in. Yet only 240,000 of the 45 million Argentinians received both doses. Priority was given to vaccinating health workers and people over the age of 80. Since the beginning of the week, people over 70 have also received an appointment for vaccination. The CELS chairman Horacio Verbitsky could now have been given this properly.