Ecuador's Health Minister Resigns over Vaccine Queue-Jumping


Ecuador's health minister Juan Carlos Zevallos resigned Friday in the latest scandal to hit a South American government over well-connected citizens jumping the queue for coronavirus vaccines.

Zevallos has admitted that his mother, 87, and "several" others close to him had received a shot among the 42,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine the country has reserved for workers in health care and old age homes.

Announcing the resignation on Twitter, President Lenin Moreno thanked his now ex-minister for his work during the pandemic that he said "helped save hundreds of thousands of lives."

Zevallos, now under investigation, occupied the health ministry for 11 months. He said he decided to resign "given the current political situation and in order to allow continuity" of the vaccination campaign that began in January.

Peru and Argentina, too, have been hit by outcries over the rich and powerful getting their coronavirus jabs out of turn.

In all three countries, academics, politicians, journalists and sports personalities were among those alleged to have jumped the queue.

Moreno insisted on Twitter that none of his family or friends had yet received the vaccine.

Ecuador, a country of some 17.4 million people, has had more than 15,000 coronavirus deaths out of more than 281,000 recorded cases.

The outgoing government says it has negotiated to acquire 20 million vaccine doses.

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