COVID-19 Fact Checks

FACT CHECK: WHO chief Tedros is vaccinated against COVID-19, contrary to claims

Rappler.com

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FACT CHECK: WHO chief Tedros is vaccinated against COVID-19, contrary to claims
The same claim had been debunked in 2022 when it first circulated

Claim: World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he is not vaccinated against COVID-19 to protest disparities in the global distribution of vaccines.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The post containing the claim has 3,900 likes, 3,400 retweets, and 241 comments as of writing on X (formerly Twitter). A screenshot of the post has also been circulating on Facebook. 

The December 7 post features a video clip from the 2021 HBO documentary How to Survive a Pandemic, where Tedros was asked by Science.org writer John Cohen about the date of his vaccination.

In the misleading post, Tedros is shown responding: “I feel like I know where I belong – in a poor country called Ethiopia, in a poor continent called Africa, and wanted to wait until Africa and other countries, in other regions, low-income countries, start vaccination. So I was protesting, in other words, because we’re failing.”

The video clip is accompanied by the text, “Tedros says he isn’t vaccinated.”

The facts: The tweet misinterpreted Tedros’ answer and omitted the part where the WHO chief confirmed that he was vaccinated in May 2021. 

His full answer: A transcript of the full interview, published on the Science.org website, shows Tedros saying that he received his first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine on May 12, 2021. In fact, he also posted a tweet about his vaccination.

Based on the transcript, it can also be seen that Tedros’ answers were trimmed and edited for narrative purposes of the documentary. The date of vaccination was not included in the film, and instead cut to Tedros’ explanation for waiting until 2021 for his vaccine shot. This was a deliberate decision of the filmmakers, according to a 2022 fact check by The Associated Press. Filmmaker David France said that for the context of the film, Tedros’ reason to wait for better vaccine equity was the “core part” of his answer.

France also added that Tedros’ response that he had waited was clearly in the past tense.

Debunked: Other news organizations such as Full Fact, Reuters, FactCheck.org, USA Today, Verify and Rappler had fact checked the same claim in 2022, when it first circulated. – Ailla dela Cruz/ Rappler.com

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