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Fact Check-French doctor making false vaccine claims is not former WHO VP

A video of French infectious diseases professor Christian Perronne making claims about COVID-19 vaccines has been shared widely by social media users who say he is a former vice president (VP) of the World Health Organization (WHO). But a WHO spokesperson told Reuters that Perronne was not a VP but a member of an advisory group.

In the video, Perronne speaks in French in Luxembourg’s Parliament and says that the COVID-19 vaccines are “completely ineffective”.

Users sharing the video describe Perronne as the WHO’s former vice president and repeat some of his claims (here, here, here , here).

According to local media reports, a discussion on a petition against vaccine mandates was held in Luxembourg’s Chamber of Deputies on Jan. 12 (here, here).

A WHO spokesperson told Reuters that Perronne was never a vice president within the organisation.

Perronne was a member and vice chair of the European Technical Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (ETAGE), with his selection based on infectious diseases expertise, the WHO spokesperson said.

ETAGE is a body made up of independent experts who advise the WHO and European member states on immunisation (here).

The spokesperson added: “The views of individual group members do not necessarily reflect the views of WHO.

“False or misleading statements related to COVID-19 disease and COVID-19 vaccines have recently been attributed to Dr Perronne in the news.

“Any statements or conclusions that are not based on robust evidence are not in line with WHO’s positions or recommendations.”

Perronne stepped down from ETAGE in 2016, a WHO news release said (here).

More recently, Perronne was head of the infectious and tropical diseases department at the Raymond Poincaré Hospital in Garches until he was removed on Dec. 17, 2020, a Public Assistance-Hospitals of Paris (AP-HP) press release said (here).

It said AP-HP’s director general terminated Perronne’s position following “remarks considered unworthy of the function he exercises” in the “context of a health crisis”.

Reuters was unable to reach Perronne for comment.

In the video, shared online, Perronne claims COVID-19 vaccines are “completely ineffective, they do not prevent transmission of viruses, they do not protect patients, from serious illness, they do not reduce hospitalisation”.

COVID-19 vaccines help to reduce severe illness and hospitalisation, global health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), say (here).

A Sept. 2021 report from Public Health England (PHE) estimated that vaccines prevented 230,800 hospitalisations in those aged 45 years and over (here).

In Oct. 2021, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported that vaccines prevented nearly 140,000 deaths in the country (here).

Vaccines do appear weaker at blocking the Omicron variant (here). The WHO told Reuters that even with Omicron, “there has been a substantial reduction in the neutralization of the virus, the vaccines are still performing against the severe end of the disease spectrum.”

Reuters previously addressed claims about COVID-19 vaccines and disease severity, here.

VERDICT

Misleading. Professor Christian Perronne was a member of the European Technical Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (ETAGE), which advises the WHO on immunisation. He was never a vice president of the WHO, the organisation told Reuters.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .

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