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Brazil: Probe shows Bolsonaro faked his COVID vaccine record

January 19, 2024

An investigation reveals that the vaccination records of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro were forged. Although Bolsonaro publicly opposed the vaccine, records had shown that he received the COVID-19 shot.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro removes his mask worn due to the COVID-19 pandemic to address a ceremony to sign a law that expands the federal government's ability to acquire vaccines
Bolsonaro consistently criticized Covid vaccines, insisting that he had no intention of being immunizedImage: Eraldo Peres/AP Photo/picture alliance

The Brazilian Comptroller General's office (CGU) said on Thursday that the COVID-19 vaccination records of former President Jair Bolsonaro were forged.

Health records state that Bolsonaro, a COVID-19 skeptic who opposed the vaccine in public, received a shot of the vaccine at a public healthcare center in Sao Paulo in July 2021.

However, the CGU investigation revealed several inconsistencies in the entry, which allowed the president to dodge travel and other restrictions.

How was the forgery revealed?

A statement from the CGU concluded that the former president had left the city the previous day and was in the capital, Brasilia, until three days after the stated entry.

A nurse who was listed in the records as having administered the vaccine denied doing so and did not work in the department that gave immunizations.

The listed batch of the Janssen vaccine was only used for clinical research and was not in stock at the health center, the CGU said.

What the investigators concluded

"Regarding the vaccination that allegedly took place in Sao Paulo — the only record that still remains on [Bolsonaro's] vaccination card," the regulatory body said. "The conclusion was that it was fraud in the state system for registering vaccinations against COVID-19."

Despite this, the CGU said the case should be closed "for lack of sufficient evidence" to find those responsible.

The ongoing price of the pandemic in Brazil

It said that many civil servants would have been able to enter the false data after accessing the computer system.

While he was president from 2019 to 2022, the far-right leader was a consistent critic of COVID-19 vaccines and insisted that he had no intention of being immunized.

Network of contacts

The CGU's finding comes after federal police last year said they had uncovered a scheme in which a top Bolsonaro aide allegedly used a network of health system and government contacts to get hold of fake vaccination certificates for Bolsonaro and others.

Police said there was evidence Bolsonaro was "fully aware" of the fraudulent entries in the electronic vaccination records system.

The fake entries were allegedly used to allow Bolsonaro's anti-vaccine inner circle to skirt international travel requirements and other restrictions.

Until now, the pandemic has claimed more than 700,000 lives in Brazil.

rc/ab (AFP, Reuters)