The story was shot by a radio report to Matías Almeyda, the remembered midfielder for River and the National Team that now manages the San Jose Earthquakes in Major League Soccer in the United States. In that talk, he said that, after his father’s death from coronavirus in Azul, he had tried to donate 30,000 vaccines to that city but that the State had prevented it.
The unusualness of the story, in a context of global shortages of vaccines, did not arouse the curiosity of the journalist who was interviewing him or that of all his colleagues who repeated and expanded it in the main media, much less that of the Mayor of Azul , led by Hernan Bertellys of Together for Change, which came out publicly to demand that the delivery be made viable.
“Matías has them and we cannot lose this opportunity. He has the possibility of buying them because in the United States they sell them. They sell them to him,” said Alejandro Vieyra, chief of staff for the mayor’s office.
Almeyda certainly did not intend to create confusion with his generous initiative, nor did he have any obligation to know the regulations governing the vaccine trade, but, in the midst of the pandemic that has already caused 68,807 deaths, journalists and politicians who used it should be more careful with the expectations they generate and, above all, with the disinformation campaigns that they carry out at the slightest possibility.
Why didn’t they consult the Ministry of Health or the Government of Buenos Aires or the Argentine embassy in Washington? Doing so would have avoided misunderstandings, but also the possibility of generating a new attack on the official vaccination plan, just on the day that the arrival of another 4 million doses was announced. Nothing is further from his intentions.
How the story began
In the first report, Almeyda recounted the blow that the death of his father on March 2 had meant for him and, in parallel, the hospitalization of his mother, lived thousands of kilometers away. In this context, he came up with the idea of donating 30,000 vaccines to his hometown.
“20 days ago I called an important politician from Argentina because he wanted to vaccinate the entire city of Azul, he wanted to pay for all the vaccinations, I didn’t care what it would cost. If I ran out of what I had, I didn’t care because the loss of my father and many acquaintances made me very sad. I had all the contacts to bring the vaccines but unfortunately it was not possible, “said the footballer, who immediately expanded his version of what happened. “I had the ties but when I spoke with this politician he told me that it could not be done because it is an issue that is handled by the States. You cannot do these things privately. It is a pity because there are many people who would be willing to invest money to help the population. The system is made like this, it is managed by the Government. The day all this opens up a bit, there will be many people who will want to collaborate, but there will also be a lot of business. It is difficult and understandable. A pity ”, concluded Almeyda.
Why was Almeyda’s proposal not possible?
The campaign on the privatization of the vaccination plan was launched in principle by Patricia Bullrich and refloated by Mauricio Macri when he said that, contrary to what he himself had promised publicly (“I will not do it until all the Argentine at risk and essential workers have already done so). have done ”), took advantage of a trip to Miami to receive his dose.
In his message, the former president implied that anyone buys and sells vaccines in the United States. It is not like this. Even those that are applied in pharmacies are given free by the State.
Macri received it in one of those pharmacies, taking advantage of the fact that the US government decided to apply them also to all foreigners living in that country, regardless of whether they are undocumented or asking about it. It is the only way to guarantee that illegal immigrants are immunized and do not infect other citizens.
But beyond the opposition delusions, which accused the national government of prohibiting the purchase of doses from the provinces, the Chief of Staff Santiago Cafiero made it clear that Law 23,573, which regulates the distribution of vaccines, also allows individuals like Almeyda the purchase of vaccines. If they get them, of course, and if it is one of those authorized by the Argentine regulatory bodies. In the case of those of North American origin, so far only the one manufactured by the Pfizer laboratory.
Almeyda collided with the Argentine government, collided with reality.
Not because the national authorities have prevented it, as his “political friend” told him, but because the United States government prohibits the export of vaccines.
From the Argentine embassy in Washington they revealed to Page 12 what in recent days four large national companies contacted them to find out if they could buy vaccines to immunize their employees, convinced that this way they would return to normal production.
The embassy consulted with the relevant authorities and collected the expected response: not only is the export closed, because everything related to immunization is considered “national security material”, but also that laboratories need a special authorization to sell vaccines from the United States government, which is not granting them.
“No, in the US there is no sale or purchase of vaccines. Everything is still distributed by the State. There is no market for vaccines, ”he responded to this newspaper. Ernesto Resnik, an Argentine molecular biologist based in that country who has become an obligatory reference in information about the pandemic.
No journalist bothered to verify this part of Almeyda’s story.
In addition to appearing claiming in the media, the Azul officials did not take any work either.
Before consulting Page 12, in the governorate of the province of Buenos Aires, they were forceful: “It is pure smoke, here no one prevents them. They didn’t even talk to us. “