Can you be at the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) and refuse to be vaccinated against Covid-19? This is the question that Internet users have been asking since yesterday on Twitter. The widely reported publication claims that during an interview – which is undated – WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus refused vaccination against Covid-19. “I did not take my first vaccine in solidarity with the country of Ethiopia”, quotes the Internet user in particular.
But the video that would reveal his refusal of vaccination is actually cut. 20 minutes traced the original interview and the words were taken out of context.
During the video, as we explained earlier, the journalist asks Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus the date of his vaccination. To this question, the director of the WHO replied that he was not vaccinated in solidarity with Ethiopia, his country of origin. We hear him say, “I know where I belong: to a poor country called Ethiopia, in a poor continent called Africa. I wanted to wait for Africa and other countries in other regions, low-income countries, to start vaccination”.
This is what is striking at first sight: the question and the answer do not coincide. At this stage, we therefore say to ourselves that the video is surely truncated and that extracts in the middle have been deleted.
An outdated interview
We therefore sought the trace of the interview and it is an interview carried out by the journalist Jon Cohen for the site Science. The article dates back to June 18, 2021, which is more than a year ago. The extract that interests us takes place at the end of the interview. The journalist asks him: “I want to ask you about your own vaccination. What is the date on which you received your first vaccine? “. To which “Tedros” replies: “May 12”.
Surprised, the journalist continues: “You are at the head of the WHO. You could have said in December 2020: “I am ready”. Why did you wait? “. It is here that we find the sentence quoted by the Internet user: “I have the impression of knowing where I belong: in a poor country called Ethiopia, in a poor continent, Africa. With the privileges I have here, I may have been lucky enough to have it first. I don’t want to use it, because I want to be reminded every day that vaccination has to start in Africa. I wanted to wait for Africa and other countries in other regions, low-income countries, to start vaccination”.
Aid to disadvantaged countries
Indeed, in December 2020, when the vaccine against Covid-19 is finally available, it is only available in very small quantities. In France, for example, it took until spring for the serum to be available to the general public. But in less developed countries – like Ethiopia and its neighbors – vaccine doses were still missing. In May 2021, the head of the WHO even called for children to be given up on vaccination in order to redistribute the doses to disadvantaged countries.
Anyway, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was vaccinated against May 12, 2021. He had also announced it in a tweet, the same day, adding: “Vaccines save lives. It is essential to get them to all counties as soon as possible. If, like me, you live in a country where vaccines are available, please get vaccinated when it is your turn.”