Fact Check: WHO Director-General Did NOT Say Countries Are Giving COVID-19 Booster Shots To Kill Children

Fact Check

  • by: Christiana Dillard
Fact Check: WHO Director-General Did NOT Say Countries Are Giving COVID-19 Booster Shots To Kill Children Speech Error

Did the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus say that countries are administering COVID-19 booster shots to "kill children"? No, that's not true: A WHO spokesperson told Lead Stories that Ghebreyesus' remarks at a press briefing were just a slip of the tongue and that he correctly pronounced what he was trying to say right after his mistake.

The claim appeared in an article published by previously debunked website The Exposé (also known as The Daily Expose) on December 22, 2021, titled "BREAKING - Director-General of the WHO claims 'Countries are giving Boosters to kill children, this is not right'" (archived here). The article opened:

Footage has emerged of Dr Tedros, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, claiming countries are intentionally giving booster shots of the Covid-19 vaccine to children to kill them.

Tedros was speaking at the hybrid press conference with Geneva based Palais des Nations journalists held on Monday 20th December 2021 when he made the following remarks -

'So if it's going to be used (the Covid-19 vaccine) it's better to focus on those groups of severe disease and death, rather as we see some countries are using to give boosters to kill children, this is not right.'

Users on social media saw this title, description and thumbnail:

BREAKING - Director-General of the WHO claims "Countries are giving Boosters to kill children, this is not right"

Footage has emerged of Dr Tedros, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, claiming countries are intentionally giving booster shots of the Covid-19 vaccine to children to kill them. ...

The clip of the press briefing on December 20, 2021, that sparked the claim can be found here. The title of this version of the clip plays into the claim.

However, in an email to Lead Stories on December 23, 2021, a spokesperson for WHO told us:

Dr Tedros's intended quote is: 'So, if it (the booster) is 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.'

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.

As you are aware, WHO strongly promotes the use of vaccines to protect people from COVID-19.

More information on the WHO stance on COVID-19 vaccination, along with COVID-19 vaccination resources, can be found here.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Christiana Dillard

Christiana Dillard is a former news writer for Temple University’s Lew Klein College of Media and Communication. She received her undergraduate degree in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been a freelance writer for several organizations including the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation, Pitt Magazine, and The Heinz Endowments. When she’s not producing or studying media she’s binging it, watching YouTube videos or any interesting series she can find on streaming services.

Read more about or contact Christiana Dillard

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