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Brazil police search Bolsonaro's home in vaccine cards probe

May 3, 2023

Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro denied taking a COVID-19 vaccine after police raided his home. Authorities said falsified COVID documents allowed himself and others to skirt restrictions in the US and Brazil.

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro speaks to the press outside his home after Federal Police agents carried out a search and seizure warrant in Brasilia
Bolsonaro confirmed the raid on his home in Brasilia to journalists and reiterated that he had never taken a COVID vaccineImage: Eraldo Peres/AP/picture alliance

Police in Brazil searched former president Jair Bolsonaro's home on Wednesday as part of an investigation into falsified COVID-19 vaccination records.

Federal police did not name the former president but confirmed they were looking into "the insertion of falsified COVID-19 vaccination data" into the Health Ministry's electronic vaccination records system.

In February, Brazil's comptroller general's office said Bolsonaro, a vocal skeptic of coronavirus vaccines, was registered as vaccinated.

After the raids on Wednesday, he again denied getting the jab.

"For my part, there was nothing falsified. I didn't take the vaccine. Period," he said.

'Falsified' data on Brazil's national COVID-19 database

The Federal Police said it searched 16 properties and arrested six people in its investigation into false health records.

Bolsonaro confirmed his home had been searched and that authorities seized his cell phone.

"The falsified entries, which occurred between November 2021 and December 2022, resulted in the alteration of the true COVID-19 vaccination status of the individuals in question," police said in a statement.

"As a result, the individuals were able to emit vaccination certificates and use them to evade health restrictions put in place by authorities in Brazil and the United States," it said.

Bolsonaro spent months in the United States after losing his re-election bid to current President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

During the pandemic, he sowed doubt about the vaccine's efficacy at one point linking it to AIDS, an assertion rejected by doctors and scientists.

Brazil's pandemic death toll was the second-highest in the world.

lo/rs (AFP, AP, Reuters)