Vaccine delays in Minas Gerais are “political,” says secretary

Vaccine delays Minas Gerais political
Governor Romeu Zema. Photo: Gil Leonardi / Imprensa MG

During a press conference on Tuesday, Jackson Machado Pinto, health secretary of Minas Gerais state capital Belo Horizonte, said that over “50,000 people” have not received Covid-19 vaccines due to “political reasons,” as the state and city struggle to make progress in their immunization campaigns. 

The Belo Horizonte administration had expected to receive 70,000 vaccines so far this month, but has only been given 19,000. Mr. Machado Pinto said this stopped the city from making progress in its immunization campaign and offering jabs to younger residents. 

The backdrop to this reportedly politically-motivated delay was Belo Horizonte Mayor Alexandre Kalil’s announcement that he plans to run for governor next year. The allegation is that current Governor Romeu Zema, an opponent of Mr. Kalil’s, chose to distribute fewer supplies to the capital in retaliation

State officials said the decision was an attempt to “balance vaccine distribution.” As of June 16, 2.5 million people in Minas Gerais have received two doses of immunization, corresponding to 12 percent of the state’s population.