Prosecutors Probe ‘Vaccinegate’ Scandal Roiling Peru’s Elite

Peruvian prosecutors opened an investigation into former President Martin Vizcarra and other officials who got vaccinated in secret with the Sinopharm coronavirus shot.

Prosecutors took statements from Vizcarra, his wife and several former cabinet members, the Attorney General’s Office said on Twitter.

Nearly 500 Peruvians including cabinet ministers abused positions of authority to get the shots before they became available to the public, President Francisco Sagasti said in a national address on Monday. The health minister, the deputy health minister and the foreign affairs minister all resigned over the weekend in the scandal Peruvian media have referred to as “vaccinegate”.

“It reflects one of the great ills that Peru has been unable to resolve, that there is always a group of privileged people that, by way of power, birth or money, have a different status than the rest of the population,” said Rodolfo Rojas, a partner of the Lima-based Sequoia political advisory group.

The scandal will add to the growing frustration with Peru’s political class, reflected in the high number of undecided voters ahead of an April 11 general election, Rojas said. A poll this week showed no presidential candidate with more than 11% support.

Sagasti was sworn in as president last November, after congress ousted Vizcarra and street protests forced out his replacement. He’ll lead the country through general elections in April and hand over power to a new administration in July.

Several candidates running for congress in April also received the shots, El Comercio reported.

Investigators have also requested information regarding the arrival and distribution of vaccines, from the National Health Institute, and from the universities who took part in the trials.

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