Fact Check

No, WHO's Director-General Didn't Say COVID Vaccines Are 'Being Used To Kill Children'

A brief clip of a comment made by World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus misrepresented what he said.

Published Dec. 22, 2021

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a ceremony to launch a multiyear partnership with Qatar on making FIFA Football World Cup 2022 and mega sporting events healthy and safe at the WHO headquarters in Geneva on October 18, 2021. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images) (Getty Images)
Image Via Getty Images
The World Health Organization's director-general said COVID-19 vaccines are "being used to kill children."

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In late December 2021, some social media users spread a false claim that World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that COVID-19 vaccines are "being used to kill children."

Here is an example posted to Twitter, with the user's name cropped out for privacy:

The video contained in the above post doesn't show Ghebreyesus stating the vaccines are being used to kill children.

The video came from a Dec. 20, 2021, press briefing in which Ghebreyesus discussed vaccine booster shots. As the BBC noted, Ghebreyesus said that getting members of vulnerable health groups vaccinated in developing nations should take priority over getting children booster shots in wealthier countries.

Ghebreyesus stated, "It’s better to focus on those [vulnerable] 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." He stumbled over the word "children," accidentally pronouncing the first syllable with a "k" sound before immediately correcting himself.

A WHO spokesperson told the BBC, "He repeated the same syllable, with it coming out 'cil-children.' Any other interpretation of this is 100% incorrect."

Ghebreyesus's statements relative to this claim can be heard below in a clip from the briefing, posted to Twitter by BBC reporter Shayan Sardarizadeh:


Sardarizadeh, Shayan. "WHO rejects ‘incorrect’ deadly booster social media claims." BBC News, 22 Dec. 2021, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-59752835. Accessed 22 Dec. 2021.

Bethania Palma is a journalist from the Los Angeles area who started her career as a daily newspaper reporter and has covered everything from crime to government to national politics. She has written for ... read more

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