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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke November 18, 2022

World Health Organization director general stuttered, he wasn’t asserting that countries are killing

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  • The World Health Organization said its director general stuttered during a December 2021 press conference. He wasn’t saying that some countries are using booster shots to kill children. 


A video spreading on social media suggests that Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus, the World Health Organization director general, implicated multiple countries in a scheme to murder children. 

In the clip, Tedros, discussing COVID-19 vaccine boosters, sounds as if he says: "So if it’s going to be used, to focus on those groups who have risk of severe diseases and death rather than as we see in some countries are using to give boosters to kill children." 

"What did he say?" text flanking the video in an Instagram post says. "Some countries are using boosters to kill children??"

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)


We reached out to the WHO about the post but didn’t hear back. 

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However, a spokesperson for the organization told Reuters in December 2021, not long after Tedros made the remark, that he had stuttered. 

Tedros "got stuck on the first syllable" of children," the spokesperson said. "It came out sounding like ‘cil/kil.’ He then correctly pronounced the same syllable immediately after, with it coming out audibly as ‘cil-children.’"

His comments in the video in the Instagram post, put in context, make clear that he’s not talking about countries killing children with vaccines.

Tedros was fielding questions from reporters in Geneva on Dec. 20, 2021, about vaccine inequity around the world. He said that it’s better to vaccinate high-risk people in countries where vaccines haven’t been as accessible, rather than giving booster shots to children in high-income countries. 

We rate claims that he was asserting that countries are using vaccine boosters to kill children False.


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World Health Organization director general stuttered, he wasn’t asserting that countries are killing

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