Peruvian Foreign Minister Elizabeth Astete resigned on Sunday night after announcing that she received a dose of the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials and before the country started implementing the vaccination.
In a statement released on social media, Astete said that after contacting several employees who tested positive for Covid-19 in December 2020 and January 2021, she accepted an offer to receive a dose of the Sinopharm vaccine on January 22. of what she understood to be “the remaining doses of the batch held by Cayetano Heredia University”.
Astete, 68, cited travel obligations to work and having to undergo the Covid-19 test after coming into contact with people who tested positive as factors that influenced their decision to get vaccinated in January.
In a statement, Astete said:
As a result of the recent disclosure of the vaccination of (ex) President Vizcarra and his wife, as well as the understandable impact that this news had on public opinion, I am aware of the serious mistake I made, so I decided not to receive the second dose. ”
“I submitted my resignation as Minister of Foreign Affairs to the President of the Republic”.
Astete’s resignation came after local media reported last week that former President Martin Vizcarra and his wife, Maribel Diaz Cabello, were vaccinated while in office last October and have not released this information to the public.
On Thursday, Vizcarra said he volunteered as one of 12,000 people who took part in the Sinopharm vaccine tests.
But on Saturday, Cayetano Heredia University (UCH) – the main university responsible for this test – released a statement clarifying that Vizcarra and his wife were not part of the vaccine test, which began in September.
Peruvian President Francisco Sagasti accepted Astete’s resignation on Sunday night and said on Twitter that the Health Minister had ordered an investigation into public officials who received doses of the vaccine.
“With the transparency and firmness that characterizes our Government, we will publish the results of the investigation and the information provided by the Center for Clinical Studies at the Cayetano Heredia University,” said Sagasti.
Sagasti also confirmed the resignation of Deputy Health Minister Luis Suárez Ognio, after local media reported that he too had been vaccinated.
Speaking to local radio RPP on Sunday night, Sagasti expressed his outrage over the scandal and said that the doses that were used to vaccinate government officials were donated by Sinopharm – and were not part of the batch used for tests conducted by the UCH.
Peru became the first Latin American country to distribute China’s Sinopharm vaccine on February 9. Although other agreements have been finalized with Pfizer / BioNTech and Oxford / Astrazeneca, China’s Sinopharm vaccine is the only Covid-19 vaccine currently being distributed in the country.