Argentina’s largest oil workers union is eager to buy coronavirus vaccines on its own, warning that it will be forced to go on strike to protect the health of its members if the government in Buenos Aires doesn’t quickly authorise the sale.
The union, which has 24,000 members, is insisting that it will only wait until June 11 for permission to go ahead.
“Then we are going to withdraw from our jobs to protect the health of all our colleagues,” Guillermo Pereyra, the union’s leader, warned in a statement on Wednesday. “We have raised this situation with the health authorities and so far we have not achieved anything.”
The vaccines purchased by the government are currently being given to senior citizens and priority workers. So far, nearly 13 million doses have been administered in a population of 45 million.
Pereyra said the union cannot wait and would rather buy its own vaccines.
“We don’t want to be assigned vaccines intended for the elderly, educators, health personnel or people at risk. We are willing to pay for them,” he told local media.
The union is considering purchasing 50,000 unused doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from Israel.
Argentinian port workers went on strike on May 20, over lack of access to vaccines, bringing the nation’s ports to a halt. They returned to the job a week ago after the government included them in the priority group.
In early April, Argentinian leader President Alberto Fernandez, tested positive for Covid even though he had previously received the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.
Fernandez, who turned 62 the day before, said he had a “slight headache” and fever, but reassured the Argentinian people that he was “physically well” and “in good spirits”.
In a further headache for the whole country, Brazil will now host football’s Copa America for the second consecutive time after Colombia and Argentina were stripped of hosting rights for the tournament because of their Covid-19 numbers.
This prompted local health experts and politicians to criticise the decision to hold the event in one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic.
Argentina and Chile’s football coaches on Wednesday also hit out at the decision to play the Copa America in coronavirus-wracked Brazil, reports AFP.
With less than two weeks before the tournament kicks off on June 13, Brazil took over last Sunday.
South America is currently the worst affected region in the world by the pandemic.
The six countries currently experiencing the highest relative Covid-19 death rates in the world are all in South America.
With more than 465,000 Covid deaths, Brazil is second only to the US, while its 16.5 million infections is the third highest in the world.
Argentina, with only 20% of Brazil’s population, has recorded 78,000 deaths and 3.8 million cases.