Health Minister declares “zero tolerance for improper acts”

Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga. Photo: Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/ABr
Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga. Photo: Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/ABr

After weeks of speculation and allegations, Brazil’s Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga spoke out about recent corruption suspicions involving the government’s vaccine purchases. “We have zero tolerance for improper acts. [If] there is evidence indicating problems, you can be sure that the ministry will dismiss [those involved]. That’s the guidance I have received from the president,” he said, on Monday morning.

Mr. Queiroga noted that corruption suspicions are being investigated by the Federal Police, and are subject to an inquiry by the Federal Controller General and the Senate’s Covid hearings committee. Allegations that the government had demanded bribes as part of a vaccine purchase agreement led to the dismissal of the ministry’s logistics director Roberto Dias.

“The inquiry is not about Roberto Dias,” added the Health Minister. “It is to investigate the facts.”

Besides Mr. Dias, the head of the National Immunization Program, Francieli Fantinato, was also fired. She is also under investigation by the Senate’s Covid inquiry and issued a technical note to states recommending they vaccinate their populations with any available immunizers. Mr. Queiroga says the government is examining potential replacements to coordinate the vaccination program.