Argentinian Bishop Oscar Vicente Ojea spoke out against the “politicisation” of the Covid-19 vaccine after Argentina’s health minister resigned amid accusations that he gave vaccines out as political favours.
Echoing Pope Francis in a video address marking the first Sunday of Lent, Ojea mourned the politicization of the vaccine, saing that it was for the good of all.
“Now we live perplexed by the politicization of the vaccine. The vaccine, which, as the Holy Father told us repeatedly, must have a universal scope, no one should be left without it, and those who are responsible for essential care deserve to receive it first,” the President of Argentina’s Bishops’ Conference said.
Monsignor Ojea urged Argentines “not to give in to temptation and the rupture of division.”
The Bishop of San Isidro prayed that Our Lord “who overcame temptation” would “give us the strength to overcome this tremendous temptation to destroy ourselves.”
The scandal came to light last week when Argentinian journalist Harocio Verbitsky revealed that he had received the vaccine after speaking to the health minister.
“I called my old friend Ginés González García and he told me to go to the Posadas Hospital,” Verbitsky, 79, told radio station El Destape.
Unlike the rest of the populatoin, Vitebsky had not had to register online to receive the vaccine.
It was reported that Argentina’s President Albertó Fernández had asked Garcia for his resignation on Friday. Garcia handed it in the same day.
Garcia, claimed in a letter he posted to Twitter, that individuals were able to get the vaccination as a result of “unintended confusion” in his office while he was away.
Since then, numerous other figures have been implicated in the scandal, known as “Vaccination VIP”. Three thousand doses of the Sputnik V vaccine have allegedly been given to those jumping the queue.
Amid the ongoing outcry, the government published a list of promininent figures, which include prominent trade unionists, ministers and former President Eduardo Duhalde and his family.
In Argentina, which has a population of 45 million, there have been more than 2 million recorded cases of coronavirus infection and over 51,000 deaths, according to John Hopkins University in the US.
Peru was hit by a similar scandal, dubbed “Vacuna-gate” or “Vaccine-gate”, earlier this month when it emerged that nearly 500 people including former president Martín Vizcarra and other senior political figures ahead of schedule.