Covid corruption and scandals that rocked the world

Written By: Moohita Kaur Garg

Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil's president, is facing fresh protests for his allegedly inept and downright criminal pandemic response. However, it's not just Bolsonaro, a number of politicians are embroiled in major corruption scandals involving the Covid vaccine, lets take a look:

Brazil: Bid to impeach Bolsonaro

Last week, opposition lawmakers launched a fresh bid to impeach Bolsonaro as more allegations broke of corruption in acquiring coronavirus vaccines.

He has been accused of dereliction of duty while procuring an Indian vaccine made by Bharat Biotech.

Other charges include turning a blind eye to corruption as the country struggled to procure vaccines and control the widespread of coronavirus.

Locals have been protesting against his poor handling of the pandemic.

According to a recent court order, Bolsonaro will be investigated by the top prosecutor's office or PGR.

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Brazil (2): Roberto Dias

Roberto Dias, a senior official in the health ministry was fired after a newspaper published allegations of vaccine fraud against him. The Brazilian leader has been accused of involvement in a Graft scheme to secure COVID-19 vaccines.

As per the report of a Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo, Dias has allegedly asked a vaccine provider to inflate vaccination prices by $1 per vial, so as to siphon off the mark-up. The publication quoted Luiz Paulo Dominguetti of Davati Medical Supply, a company with whom Dias was negotiating a deal for 400 million AstraZeneca doses.


Brazil (3): Embezzlement charges

Earlier this week, the Brazilian senate heard accusations that the purchase of Covaxin, an Indian vaccine, was part of a corruption scheme, a Bolsonaro ally masterminded the scheme, and the president was aware of it and did nothing.

As a result of these allegations, prosecutors have started an investigation against Bolsonaro to determine whether or not he should be charged.

COVID-19 has claimed over a half-million lives in Brazil, the second-worst country in terms of fatalities. The country is facing a third wave of deaths amid crucial vaccine shortages.


Corruption in South Africa

In a scandal unfolding in South Africa, numerous government officials are implicated concerning the award of coronavirus contracts worth $1 billion, which was 11 per cent of the total government budget allocated to the pandemic.

Last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa ordered an inquiry after reports of coronavirus-linked tenders given to companies and individuals with political connections came to light. 


South Africa (2): 4,000 contracts reported

Since then, the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) has been notified about more than 4,000 contracts for COVID-19 services and supplies. 

According to reports from the SIU, 63 government officials will be prosecuted, and 87 companies will be blacklisted.


South Africa (3): Health minister Zweli Mkhize

One of the accused is the country's health minister Zweli Mkhize. The charge against Mkhize includes a multimillion-rand corruption scam involving a company run by three women of Indian descent.

South African politicians have been calling for his resignation over this, but President Cyril Ramaphosa is awaiting the final report of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report which, in May, opened a probe into two of the country's health minister's close associates for allegedly misappropriating COVID-19 funds.


Peru: Vaccinegate

Former president Martin Vizcarra was implicated in a secret vaccination scandal that swept Peru in February. Dubbed "Vaccinegate," it involved 500 officials covering up the fact they had been vaccinated before the country's vaccination campaign began.


Peru (2): Martin Vizcarra

Vizcarra claims that he was participating in a clinical trial.

Apart from him, several other government ministers were also accused of this "VIP Vaccines" scandal, where allegedly they received China's Sinopharm vaccine.

In April, he revealed that he and his spouse contacted coronavirus, even after the jab. 


Argentina: Gines Gonzalez Garcia

Other Latin American countries' Covid queue-jumping scandals have also been exposed. 

Argentina's "VIP vaccinations" prompted the resignation of the health minister Gines Gonzalez Garcia and became the subject of protests in Buenos Aires.


Ecuador: Juan Carlos Zevallos

Juan Carlos Zevallos resigned as health minister in February over a vaccine scandal that saw well-connected people in Ecuador, including his mother, jumping the queue to get their vaccinations earlier. 

In March, an investigation into the matter also led investigators to raid Ecuador's health ministry in the capital, Quito.


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