The Punjab Health Department on Thursday took notice of and ordered investigation into a "fake entry" of Covid-19 vaccination in the government portal under the name of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who left Pakistan for the United Kingdom in Nov 2019 — months before the first case of the virus was even found in the country.
According to a letter sent by the Punjab's Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the "fake entry" in the National Immunisation Management System was made from Government Kot Khawaja Saeed Hospital in Lahore.
The letter stated that the entry of Sharif's inoculation with the first dose of Sinovac vaccine was made on Sept 22 (Wednesday).
"It is hereby requested to kindly investigate and take necessary action against the fake entry," the letter reads.
Later in a press talk, Punjab government spokesperson Fayyazul Hassan Chohan said an investigation had been ordered and anyone found responsible would be punished.
Chohan said fake entries of vaccinations were being reported all over the world. “Surf the internet and you will see how countries are coping up with the challenge of fake Covid-19 vaccine entries,” he said.
Fake vaccination entry exposes system: Maryam
During a press conference in Islamabad earlier in the day, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz expressed her surprise at the "fake vaccination" of her father, saying, “this could draw an international reaction over the kind of system Pakistan has for vaccine administration and registration.”
“It only exposes the system and its vaccine registration mechanism," she said, adding: "I am worried about it."
Sharif had left Pakistan for medical treatment in London on November 19, 2019, days after he was released on bail from a seven-year sentence for corruption. He has not returned back to Pakistan since.
Pakistan had confirmed its first two cases of the novel coronavirus on Feb 26, 2020 — more than three months after Sharif's departure for the UK.
Pak Covid-19 Vaccination Pass App launched to fight fake entries
Earlier in July, Lahore police had booked three officials of the primary and secondary healthcare (P&SH) department on charges of making fake Covid vaccine entries at the Expo Centre.
The officials had received a bribe from five people for administering an AstraZeneca vaccine, which was not officially administered, but the staffers had made fake entries in the record.
Later on Aug 14, the government had launched the 'Pak Covid-19 Vaccination Pass App' to identify fake vaccination certificates and facilitate inoculated people.
The app was developed following complaints about people using fake vaccination certificates to avail facilities of indoor dining, travel and hiring rooms in hotels.