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Peru launches investigations in vaccine scandal

AP, 19 Feb 2021
The fallout over the Peruvian vaccination scandal which saw secret coronavirus shots for the wealthy and well-connected continued Thursday as institutions launched their own investigations into the affair.

Peru's government has a preliminary list of 487 people who received the Chinese-developed Sinopharm vaccine who were not part of those enrolled in a clinical trial to determine its efficacy.

It includes former President Martín Vizcarra, the ambassador of the Holy See in Peru Nicola Girasoli, two former ministers, a lobbyist, relatives of bureaucrats, a driver of a ex-minister and even the owner of a Chinese food restaurant.

Health Minister Oscar Ugarte said Thursday as many as 3,200 vaccines could have been given out incorrectly, with an internal investigation being conducted at the Health Ministry.

Peru's Congress also launched a committee to investigate the scandal, despite having only five months left in its term.

Public anger has risen since the surreptitious vaccination of the privileged group, ahead of frontine health workers, was revealed.

Several of those secretly vaccinated were involved in the negotiations to purchase one million doses of Sinopharm's shot for Peru.

As of Wednesday the South American country had registered more than 1.25 million cases of coronavirus and 44,308 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

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