Peru’s foreign minister becomes 2nd govt official to step down for receiving Covid-19 jab ahead of priority groups

The foreign minister of Peru has resigned amid a very public scandal – which has also seen Health Minister Pilar Mazzetti step down – over politicians receiving Covid-19 vaccines long before they were given to healthcare workers.

“I am aware of the serious mistake I made,” Peruvian Foreign Minister Elizabeth Astete tweeted on Sunday, adding that she would not be receiving a second dose. 

Astete confirmed that her resignation was accepted by President Francisco Sagasti and revealed that she had been vaccinated against Covid-19 on January 22, weeks before the targeted vaccination rollout started with healthcare workers on February 9. 

Astete becomes the second member of Sagasti’s cabinet to step down after Health Minister Pilar Mazzetti resigned on Friday, having been accused of knowing that former President Martín Vizcarra and his wife had secretly received Sinopharm’s Covid-19 jab in October. 

Vizcarra was overwhelming ousted by parliament in November on account of “moral incompetence” and alleged evidence of bribery and corruption. 

Incumbent President Sagasti told the America Television channel he was “outraged and furious” about the situation. 

Sagasti received his first dose last week in what his office called a confidence-building move meant to encourage Peruvians to take the vaccine. He called it “the best shield” against the disease. 

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Pilar Mazzetti (L) and Martin Vizcarra (R). Photos courtesy of the Presidency of Peru.
Peru’s health minister resigns amid scandal over now-impeached president’s secret Covid-19 vaccination

Peru’s immunization program only began last Tuesday, having received 300,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine, but there is still no date for a general vaccine rollout. 

Peru has been one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic. Antibody prevalence studies suggest that more than a third of the population was infected with Covid-19 by the end of 2020. A more recent study noted that as much as 71 percent of people in regional capital, Iquitos had immunity. 

In addition to Sinopharm’s vaccine, Peru has signed agreements for the Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs. 

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