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Peru’s foreign minister quits over secret vaccination

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Peru’s foreign minister Elizabeth Astete resigned Sunday amid an uproar over government officials being secretly vaccinated against the coronavirus ahead of health workers.

President Francisco Sagasti confirmed Astete stepped down and said Peruvians should feel “outraged and angry about this situation that jeopardizes the enormous effort of many Peruvians working on the front line against COVID.”

The scandal erupted Thursday when former President Martín Vizcarra, who was dismissed by Congress on Nov. 9 over a corruption allegation, confirmed a newspaper report that he and his wife had secretly received shots of a vaccine from the Chinese state pharmaceutical company Sinopharm in October.

Health Minister Pilar Mazzetti resigned Friday after legislators accused her of concealing information about the matter,

Astete, who led the Peruvian negotiations to buy the 1 million doses of Sinopharm’s vaccine, said Sunday in a letter that she was vaccinated with the first dose Jan. 22.

“I am aware of the serious mistake I made, which is why I decided not to receive the second dose,” she wrote.

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Doctors and nurses have protested because they were not included in the first group of people to be vaccinated.

The pandemic has caused the deaths of 306 doctors and 125 nurses, with more than 20,000 doctors and nurses being infected.

Peru has had more than 1.2 million cases of coronavirus infections, with 43,491 deaths related to COVID-19 according to Johns Hopkins University’s tally of cases around the globe.

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