A viral video of Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, the WHO chief, calling out certain rich countries for using booster doses to ‘kill children’ instead of administering it on the older population of poorer countries, is doing rounds on social media. The video has been shared by multiple users in the last two weeks claiming that it was a candid admission by Dr Tedros to what is being called the ‘great reset’, a theory where anti-vaxers and pandemic nay-sayers believe that the vaccines were being used to systematically kill people. Newschecker has found that the viral video to be missing context.
The comments are from Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus’s address to the media in Geneva on December 22, 2021, where he was stressing for vaccine equity. Speaking to the press, Dr Tedros said that ‘no country can boost its way out of the pandemic’ and that ‘boosters cannot be seen as a ticket to go ahead with planned celebrations’.
“Blanket booster programmes are likely to prolong the pandemic, rather than ending it, by diverting supply to countries that already have high levels of vaccination coverage, giving the virus more opportunity to spread and mutate,” said Tedros.
But the WHO chief’s plea to countries to not resort to blanket booster programmes was tossed aside for the more sensational part of the speech – one where he is heard saying that some countries are using booster doses to ‘kill children’.
In addition to social media platforms, Newschecker also received the same video on our WhatsApp tipline (+91 9999499044) to be fact checked.
To check the context in which the alleged comment in viral video was made, Newschecker checked the WHO website for the transcript of the speech and found the mentioned part at 26:44.
The transcript reads “It’s not because they are not boosted. That’s the reality. So, I think they should focus on something that should be focused on, that’s the issue. We had a meeting today and in the last few days. There is new evidence emerging now of its benefits, especially with elderly groups, senior citizens, especially above 65 and above 60. So, if it’s going to be used, it’s better to focus on those groups who have the risk of severe disease and death, rather than, as we see, some countries are using to give boosters to children, which is not right.”
It is at the last sentence of the provided transcript, that the WHO chief is heard saying ‘kill children’, but the transcript does not have the word kill in it.
Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus continues to elaborate on vaccine inequity, saying “Then the equity issues come in here. Instead of boosting a child in high income countries, it’s better to vaccinate the elderly in countries where the elders have not been vaccinated, even the primary vaccines. So, the equity issue should also come into play. I think this is the first one. The second on the prediction. It’s very difficult to predict, as you know. And we are facing another very hard winter. But we also believe that we can get through this with solidarity.”
This part of the speech provides more context to the previous paragraph, and it is evident that the WHO chief was speaking on vaccine equity.
Further, Newschecker reached out to the World Health Organisation for a comment on the viral posts, which clarified that it was nothing more than a slip-of-tongue. According to the WHO, “What occurred on Monday at the WHO press conference during his delivery of the word “children” is that he got stuck on the first syllable “chil” and it came out sounding like “cil/kil.” He then correctly pronounced the same syllable immediately after, with it coming out audibly as “cil-children”. Any other interpretation of this is 100% incorrect.”
The viral video which shows the WHO chief saying ‘kill children’ is a mere slip-of-tongue and has been presented without context, and is not a confession of the ‘great reset’ as is being claimed.
Result: Misplaced context