The South American nation’s public database lists each person’s name, place of vaccination, type of vaccine and number of doses so citizens can see if anyone has missed the queue.
Based on the outbreaks and outbreaks of coronavirus, a country with one of the highest death rates of Covid-19 is taking a new approach to fighting vaccine corruption: publish the names of all recipients a blow.
For those who want to know if a friend, neighbor or member of Paraguay’s political elite is among the 400,000 people who have been inoculated, the answer is just a few clicks away on the website of the Ministry of Health. There is a public database that lists the person’s name, place of vaccination, type of vaccine and number of doses. Scroll through and you’ll see ex-president Fernando Lugo get his first shot of Sputnik V on May 19 and Carlitos Vera, a famous Paraguayan comedian, received the Covaxin jab.
“It’s a tool for monitoring citizens,” Lida Sosa, deputy health minister, said in an interview. “There were people who looked at the list and reported vaccinated individuals who“ were not eligible.
The degree of disclosure of Paraguay would be prohibited in many countries with stricter laws on privacy and health. But with just enough blows to completely vaccinate 7% of the population and a deeply rooted culture of corruption – Paraguay is the second worst performer in South America in the Transparency International’s 2020 perception of corruption – there there are widespread concerns for people trying to jump to the head of the line. The so-called VIP vaccination scandals involving senior government officials and politicians who have used their influence to surreptitiously receive gunshot wounds have ruined Argentina, Peru, Lebanon, Spain and the Philippines.
In Paraguay, people receiving vaccinations may ask not to be included on the public list, but so far no one has asked to remain anonymous, according to Sosa.
Valentin Sanchez, a 23-year-old Paraguayan software engineer living in the United States, is a celebrity at home thanks to his efforts to find irregular vaccinations.
Sanchez was writing a program to study the Ministry of Health’s vaccination data in April to satisfy his curiosity about how the shots were administered when his friend suggested he also look for vaccination tricks. He found more than 500 suspicious cases by comparing the names and personal identity numbers on the vaccination list with those in public databases of officials and politicians.
While many of them turned out to be people with physical disabilities who were eligible for the shootings, their discovery revealed Mirta Gusinky, at the time Colorado Party senator in government, had been vaccinated out of turn. Gusinky resigned last month amid a public outcry. The same week, the Ministry of Health said it had reported 88 unjustified vaccinations to the prosecutor’s office after examining 518 cases brought to its attention.
“Because we have so few vaccines and people don’t trust the process the only way we can sort of give them some confidence is through this list,” Sanchez said. “People will use their influence if they can get vaccinated. We are talking about a life or death situation. “
The government has purchased or received as a donation 981,400 doses of six different vaccines, with orders for nearly 8 million shots still to be filled. Wealthy Paraguayans are not waiting, and thousands have flown to Miami or elsewhere in the United States to be vaccinated. At the moment, only health workers, pregnant women and people aged 60 and over are eligible for jabs in Paraguay.
The country, where the virus has killed more than 10,000 people, has the highest per capita death rate in the last 7 days with nearly 122 victims per 1 million people, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It is ranked No. 6 for infections. The mortality rate since the beginning of the pandemic is among the 30 highest in the world.
The situation could be critical until July as a “tired and tired” population ignores preventive measures such as social disengagement and masks, according to Sosa, the deputy health minister.
“This is reflected in our health system which today is saturated” with patients, Sosa said. “We are in the most critical stage of the pandemic.”