The “Vacunagate”, in other words the vaccine affair, shakes the Catholic Church in Peru. In mid-February, the names of nearly 500 personalities who benefited from the Covid-19 vaccine before the priority populations were disclosed. The list transmitted by the President of the Republic Francisco Sagasti was published by the daily El Comercio. On it appeared in particular the apostolic nuncio in Peru, Bishop Nicola Girasoli, in post since 2017. The latter, Italian, benefited from doses of vaccines offered by the Chinese laboratory Sinopharm.
The Archbishop of Lima “indignant”
In reaction to the “Vacunagate”, the Conference of Bishops of Peru issued a press release on February 17 in which the institution condemns the vaccination of these non-priority personalities. The bishops criticize those, without explicitly naming the nuncio, who “Profited selfishly” vaccines in “Leaving aside the interests of the country” and more particularly “Those who are on the front line” to fight the virus.
The vaccination campaign officially started on February 9 and concerns, for the moment, only health personnel in this country hard hit by the pandemic (nearly 45,000 victims). The vaccination schedule for the entire population has not yet been decided.
In their press release, the bishops are also alarmed at ” Corruption “ and of “The ethical crisis” that plague the country. For his part, the Archbishop of Lima, Monsignor Carlos Castillo, also expressed his wrath. “We are saddened and outraged”, he said on the radio. The representatives of the Catholic Church are not above the “People’s problems”, he insists, pointing out, a rare occurrence, directly Mgr Nicola Girasoli.
→ EXPLANATION. Peru, a country devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic
The 63-year-old nuncio admitted to having received two doses of Covid-19 vaccine on January 21 and February 11. He explained that he was “ convened as a consultant to the prestigious Cayetano Heredia University on ethical questions concerning this process ”. He then added that he had benefited vaccine ” Due to [son] state of convalescence “, claiming to have contracted the coronavirus in April 2020 with “Severe symptoms”.
However, for Bishop Carlos Castillo, “These justifications are not sufficient”. The Archbishop stressed that representatives of the Catholic Church should represent “Hope” of their parishioners. In this country with a large Catholic majority (about 70% of the population), the Peruvian bishops had made a point of addressing “ a message of faith and hope to the Peruvian people ” at the start of the crisis in May 2020, after the declaration of a state of emergency by the government and the establishment of containment.
A discredit that affects the political class
Peru plunges back into political instability
Besides the Church, the revelations also shake the political world. “The Vacunagate” occurs, in fact, a few weeks before the general elections scheduled for April. Among the 487 personalities on the list are former President Martín Vizcarra, his wife, his brother, but also many members of the government, university rectors, and even senior officials. Health Minister Pilar Mazzetti and Foreign Minister Elizabeth Astete have resigned in the wake of the revelations.