President Alberto Fernandez asked Argentina’s health minister to resign after a journalist said he had been given a coronavirus vaccination preferentially after requesting one from the minister, a government official says.
The president “instructed his chief of staff to request the resignation of health minister” Gines Gonzalez Garcia, who is in charge of the government’s COVID-19 strategy, said the official, who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
He did not say who would replace Gonzalez Garcia as health minister.
The scandal erupted when veteran journalist Horacio Verbitsky, whose stories and columns on a website and on the radio are seen as pro-government, said he called the minister to request a vaccination and Gonzalez Garcia summoned him to the health ministry where he received a Sputnik V vaccine shot on Thursday.
“I decided to get vaccinated. I started to find out where to do it. I called my old friend Gines Gonzalez Garcia, whom I have known long before he was a minister,” Verbitsky told a local radio station. “I went to the ministry and the team of vaccinators was there.”
Gonzalez Garcia has not spoken publicly about the resignation request but the official said he was no longer part of the government.
Fernandez’s government has been harshly criticised for Argentina’s slow vaccination operation.
Earlier this month, Peru’s health minister quit after reports of hundreds of Peruvian officials and others receiving vaccine doses outside of clinical trials and before the national immunisation program began.