Argentina's health minister tests positive for COVID-19 one week into job

BUENOS AIRES, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Argentina’s newly appointed health minister Carla Vizzotti said on Friday she had tested positive for COVID-19, one week after her predecesor resigned following reports that VIPs in the South American nation had jumped the line to receive vaccination shots early.

Vizzotti, who replaced former minister Ginés González García, said on social media she would quarantine for several days as she recovers from the illness. President Alberto Fernandez´s chief of staff Santiago Cafiero said he too would quarantine as a precaution after recent meetings with Vizzotti.

Argentines have been growing more frustrated with a slow-moving vaccination program wrought with scandal. Since December, Argentina has been using primarily Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine to inoculate frontline health workers, and deliveries have lagged far behind initial projections.

The country has also recently received deliveries from Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinopharm, as well as the Indian Serum Institute of COVISHIELD, its brand name for the AstraZeneca vaccine.

But those latest deliveries were quickly overshadowed by reports and government statements that revealed family members of prominent politicians had received early vaccinations.

Vizzotti has pledged greater transparency in the program, while the Attorney for Administrative Investigations has opened a file to look into whether there were any abuses of power.

Two Aerolineas Argentinas planes departed for Russia Friday evening to bring Argentina a new batch of Sputnik V vaccines against COVID-19, the state airline said in a statement, inspiring fresh hope.

Argentina, a top global grains producer, has reported 2.1 million cases of COVID-19 since March of 2020, and more than 51,000 deaths from the disease. (Reporting by Maximilian Heath, writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by David Gregorio)