Ecuador health minister resigns after less than 3 weeks as prosecutors probe vaccine rollout

QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuador’s health minister has resigned less than three weeks on the job, the Andean country’s government said on Friday, as prosecutors investigate allegations of favoritism in the rollout of coronavirus vaccines.

Surgeon Rodolfo Farfan was named health minister on March 1. Reuters could not reach Farfan for comment on Friday. He has not been accused of wrongdoing.

Farfan replaced Juan Carlos Zevallos, who resigned in late February while under investigation after participating in an inoculation effort at a nursing home where his mother lives.

Farfan resigned after police raided the health ministry and a hospital in the capital Quito as part of its investigation. In a statement, the government said it was willing to cooperate with the investigations.

Accusations of nepotism in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines have caused political turmoil in several South American countries including Ecuador, Peru and Argentina.

Official data show Ecuador has administered the first dose of the vaccine to more than 120,000 people. Authorities say they have arranged to purchase 20 million doses to vaccinate 60% of the population above the age of 18 by the end of the year.

President Lenin Moreno, along with his wife and 10 people who had provided medical care to Moreno, had been vaccinated, the government statement said.

Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Luc Cohen; editing by Grant McCool