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Covid corruption: Major cases

Covid corruption: Major cases

A Covid-19 awareness poster outside a trade complex in Dubai, UAE on September 10, 2020.

Photo credit: Karim Sahib | AFP

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, who is facing fresh protests Saturday over claims his pandemic response was not only inept but criminal, is one of several politicians embroiled in major Covid corruption scandals. Here's a roundup:

Explosive charges against Bolsonaro

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

Earlier the same day, a senior official in the health ministry resigned after a newspaper published yet more allegations of vaccine fraud.

And last week, Brazil's senate heard accusations that a deal to purchase another vaccine, Indian-made Covaxin, was a front to embezzle millions of dollars, that a Bolsonaro ally masterminded the plan, and that the president knew all about it but didn't do anything.

These allegations led prosecutors Friday to open a probe into the allegations to determine whether or not Bolsonaro could be charged.

The second-worst hit country in the world in absolute numbers of fatalities, Brazil in June passed the grim mark of a half million deaths from Covid-19 and is facing a brutal third wave amid critical vaccine shortages.

South Africa's government

In an unfolding saga in South Africa, dozens of government officials are implicated over the award of coronavirus contracts worth a total of around $1 billion, some 11 percent of total government spending on the pandemic.

President Cyril Ramaphosa ordered the inquiry in 2020 after reports coronavirus-linked tenders were allegedly handed to politically connected individuals and companies, sparking public outrage.

More than 4,000 contracts for Covid-19 services and supplies have since been reported to South Africa's Special Investigative Unit (SIU).

The head of the SIU said early June that 63 government officials had so far been handed over for prosecution, while 87 companies will be blacklisted.

The unit also opened in May a probe into two of the country's health minister's close associates for alleged plundering of Covid-19 funds.

'Vaccinegate'

In February a secret vaccinations scandal dubbed "Vaccinegate" broke in Peru involving 500 officials including former president Martin Vizcarra, accused of secretly getting jabbed before the country's vaccination campaign began.

Vizcarra, who maintains he was taking part in a clinical trial, revealed in April that he and his wife had caught the virus six months after they were jabbed with the Chinese-developed vaccine Sinopharm.

VIP vaccines

Queue-jumping Covid scandals have also been exposed in other Latin American countries including Argentina with its "VIP vaccinations" that forced the health minister to resign in February and sparked protests in Buenos Aires.Ecuador's former health minister Juan Carlos Zevallos also resigned the same month over a vaccine scandal that saw well-connected individuals in the country, including his mother, jump the queue for their jabs.In March investigators raided the health ministry in Ecuador's capital Quito as part of the probe into the affair