Former president Mauricio Macri apologised on Friday after playing down the severity of the novel coronavirus and Covid-19 pandemic.
The Juntos por el Cambio described Covid-19 as “a slightly more serious version of flu” in an interview with the Mendoza newspaper El Sol.
Via Twitter, Macri said: “I apologise for the error I committed yesterday when speaking of the pandemic, apologising to the persons and families who have been affected by this virus. In no way do I minimise the worldwide impact of Covid-19 and the suffering it has caused.”
In a second message he added: “I’ll take advantage of this tweet to explain the meaning of my words. What I meant to say is that this illness cannot be used as an excuse for the government to advance against personal freedoms and overwhelm the institutions of the Republic. The pandemic does not justify the government destroying the lives, jobs and education of the Argentines. They paralysed the country but Argentina ranks in last place for its handling of the pandemic.”
Apart from considering coronavirus to be a slightly worse version of flu, Macri told the Mendoza newspaper that he “never” believed that the disease was “something worth losing sleep over.”
The newspaper asked Macri about his statement last February that he would not consent to be vaccinated against Covid-19 until the last Argentine had been vaccinated, only to fly off to Miami for a vaccination.
“I went and paid for my vaccine, I did it as a contribution,” he replied, adding that he did not travel abroad especially to be inoculated but to attend a conference. “I said that I would not be vaccinated until the last Argentine who needed it and I kept my word.”
On being asked how he would have proceeded if the pandemic had occurred during his presidency, Macri assured: “I would have bought all the vaccines available because if one day of lockdown costs the country billions of pesos or over US$100 million, how are you not going to buy all the vaccines? Without ideological prejudices, with absolute transparency and guaranteeing the same level of vaccination as Chile.”
He added: “A CONICET technician said that if we had vaccinated like Chile, we would have had 30,000 less dead. And in addition to that, less days of lockdown, provoking the destruction of the psychological, mental, physical and economic health of the population. The handling of the pandemic has really been a disgrace for Argentines.
“Eternal quarantine has destroyed part of the country. Luckily Mendoza has a governor who has not followed the presidential line, managing [the pandemic] in freedom so that the people of Mendoza can survive this misfortune.”