Argentina's president Alberto Fernandez blasted his former health minister over an "unforgivable" coronavirus vaccine scandal, in quotes published on Sunday.

Argentina president blasts ‘unforgivable’ vaccine line-jump scandal

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Argentina’s president Alberto Fernandez blasted his former health minister over an “unforgivable” coronavirus vaccine scandal, in quotes published on Sunday.

Gines Gonzalez Garcia resigned late on Friday after it emerged he had helped acquaintances cut in line to receive a Covid-19 vaccine.

“Gines was a great minister, and on top of that I like him. But what he did was unforgivable,” Fernandez told the Pagina 12 daily, which said it had spoken to him on Saturday.

“Politics is ethical, we have to end these types of practices, with the Argentine culture of liveliness, craftiness (and) the management of influences.”

Fernandez on Friday asked 75-year-old doctor Gonzalez to resign and a day later replaced him with Carla Vizzotti, 48, a former deputy minister responsible for securing the Russian Sputnik V vaccine for Argentina.

The scandal broke after a 71-year-old journalist, Horacio Verbitsky, announced on the radio that, owing to his longstanding friendship with Gonzalez Garcia, he had been able to get vaccinated in his office ahead of the general population.

Since Argentina began vaccinating its people, only healthcare workers had received the jab until Wednesday, when over-70s in Buenos Aires province were also invited to be immunized.

“I don’t tolerate things like this, nor do I do things like this. I drive my own car; when I wasn’t a government official and I was invited to skip the queue via the VIP lounge, I refused it. As president I cannot allow these privileges to be granted,” said Fernandez.

Local media say the public prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into the vaccines scandal.

Vizzotti insisted on Sunday that “in no way was there a VIP immunization” program.

She told Radio 10 that it involved “a small number of people” and that there was no policy of “reserving vaccines for a privileged situation.”

Vizzotti said that from now on there would be “a plan to monitor the administration of vaccines.”

Argentina, a country of 44 million, has received 1.2 million Sputnik V vaccine doses so far along with 580,000 doses of Covishield from the Serum Institute of India.

It has recorded more than two million coronavirus cases and over 51,000 deaths.

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Duterte dismisses ex-PH envoy to Brazil Mauro for abusing housemaid

By Prince Golez

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday announced the dismissal of Philippine Ambassador to Brazil Marichu Mauro, who was caught on video maltreating her household service staff.

In his weekly address Monday, Duterte said he approved Mauro’s dismissal from government service “the other day or last night.”

Penalty for the former ambassador, according to him, includes cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, perpetual disqualification to hold public office, and bar from taking civil service examinations.

“That’s how it is. I said, there are rules to be followed. Kung ayaw mong sundin, you take the risk. If something goes wrong, it’s gonna hit you,” the President said.

Mauro was appointed as Ambassador to Brazil in 2018. She also had jurisdiction over Colombia, Guyana, Suriname, and Venezuela.

‘No objections’: Duterte reiterates: Health workers can refuse Sinovac vaccine

By Prince Golez

Health workers have a choice on which coronavirus vaccine to take, President Rodrigo Duterte said.

On Monday, Duterte acknowledged that some doctors were not keen on receiving China’s Sinovac vaccine, which the government rolled out to several hospitals in Metro Manila early today.

“That is their right. They want, maybe, the U.S. (vaccines). It could be AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson’s. It could be Moderna,” the Chief Executive said during his televised address.

“Wala kaming objections diyan. Kung ayaw ninyo maghintay na lang kayo pag dumating ang mga bakuna of your choice and not the ones that are being applied now to the people. We respect your decision on the matter,” he also said.

Duterte earlier expressed preference for Sinopharm, another China-based pharmaceutical company. The drugmaker is yet to receive emergency approval for its vaccine.

Duterte blasts Robredo anew: ‘You seem to have an angel face but a devilish mind’

By Prince Golez

President Rodrigo Duterte once again lashed out at Vice President Leni Robredo for challenging him to be the first to get inoculated with the Sinovac vaccine.

During his weekly national address on Monday, Duterte said Robredo only wanted to be “relevant.”

She was “baiting” him to get the CoronaVac because she suspected he already received the Covid-19 vaccine shot, the Chief Executive claimed.

“You seem to have an angel face but a devilish mind. Marunong ka mag ano. Ang duda mo kasi tapos na ako, kaya you want me to go into a trap of saying things which are not appropriate,” said Duterte.

“Sige ka lang salita diyan, wala ka naman ginagawa. Sige ka isyu-isyu ng statement… because you want to be relevant here. Gusto mo sumali sa laro para mapakinggan ka rin,” he added.

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