Chinese State Media Misquotes WHO Expert on China’s COVID-19 Vaccines to Claim They Are Effective

October 2, 2020 Updated: October 5, 2020

China’s state-run broadcasters China Central Television (CCTV) and China Global Television Network (CGTN) released an episode recently, claiming that the chief scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), Soumya Swaminathan, recognized that “China’s COVID-19 vaccines are effective.” However, a Hong Kong fact-checking agency found that the female expert’s statement was edited and taken out of context.

CCTV’s Chinese-language Facebook account published a post alleging that the WHO expert, when speaking of China’s COVID-19 vaccines, said: China had a “very active” vaccine development program and “several of their vaccine candidates are in advanced stages of clinical trial so this is also of interest to us so we’re following those very closely. Some of their candidates actually proved to be successful in the clinical trials that are going on.”

CGTN published a Sept. 23 video on its website making similar claims.

Epoch Times Photo
A child receives a vaccination shot at a hospital in Rongan in China’s southern Guangxi region on July 23, 2018. That year, a scandal rocked China as a Chinese company was found to have shipped more than 250,000 doses of a faulty DTap vaccine, affecting more than 200,000 children. (AFP via Getty Images)

The scientist in fact prefaced her statement with: “they [the Chinese regime] have always been reiterating their commitment to global access if some of their candidates actually proved to be successful in the clinical trials that are going on,” according to Factcheck Lab, a Hong Kong-based independent agency. Thus, Swaminathan was making a hypothetical statement, Factcheck Lab concluded after conducting a word-by-word comparison.

CCTV is China’s largest state-run national TV station, with one billion viewers in China and television programs in different languages.

And CGTN, which is owned by CCTV, is a Beijing-based English-language news channel under the control of the Chinese regime’s propaganda department. Its satellite signals are received in over 100 countries. This February, CGTN was among five Chinese state-run outlets designated as foreign missions by the United States Department of State, meaning they are propaganda organs of the Chinese Communist Party. In June, the state department added another four outlets to the list.