The Director General of the WHO speaking to journalists
There's no mention of bird flu in recent amendments to WHO regulations. Image by AP PHOTO

WHO countries won’t ‘arrest citizens’ opposing bird flu vaccines

David Williams July 4, 2024

WHO member countries have agreed to arrest people who oppose the bird flu vaccine.


False. Recent amendments to WHO regulations make no mention of arrests over bird flu vaccines.

AAP FACTCHECK – World Health Organization member countries are planning to throw citizens who oppose bird flu vaccines behind bars, some social media users claim.

This is false. There is nothing in recent amendments to WHO regulations that says people who oppose a bird flu vaccine will be punished.

Amid outbreaks of bird flu around the world, a Facebook post claims that: “Of the 194 countries ‘WHO’ has obviously made it quite ‘clear’ that people that have a ‘RIGHT’ to ‘bodily’ autonomy are to be ARRESTED!!”

The post features a screenshot of an article by The People’s Voice, a website checked multiple times by AAP FactCheck.

The headline reads: “194 WHO countries agree to arrest citizens who oppose bird flu vaccine — media blackout”.

“194 World Health Organization (WHO) member states have agreed to begin arresting and prosecuting citizens who speak out against the Bird Flu vaccine, as part of tough new measures designed to stomp out so-called ‘misinformation’,” the article says.

Facebook post spreading the false claim
 Baseless conspiracies are swirling around recent WHO regulation amendments. 

Beyond the headline and lead paragraph, the article says nothing more about bird flu.

It goes on to discuss recent changes to the WHO’s International Health Regulations.

These regulations provide a legal framework for countries to respond to public health events and emergencies that could cross borders, such as infectious diseases.

WHO member countries agreed on June 1 to wide-ranging amendments to the regulations, following the experience of COVID-19.

These include defining a “pandemic emergency,” committing to “solidarity and equity” to ensure medical products reach those who need them most, and creating national authorities to help countries implement the regulations.

But the amendments do not mention “bird flu” or arresting people who opposed vaccines at all.

A photo of a bird flu quarantine area sign in Victoria.
 Despite outbreaks in Australia and elsewhere, the WHO regulations don’t mention “bird flu” at all. 

Professor Sir Ashley Bloomfield, co-chair of the working group on amendments to the regulations, says claims in the Facebook post and the People’s Voice article are false.

“There is nothing regarding mandating vaccines or punishing those who don’t get vaccinated,” Prof Bloomfield told AAP FactCheck

“And countries’ sovereignty is not compromised, which is supported by the fact that the amendments to the [regulations] were written by and agreed to by countries and adopted by consensus.”

The claim has also been debunked by Reuters Fact Check.

The Verdict

The claim that WHO member countries have agreed to arrest people who oppose the bird flu vaccine is false.

WHO member states have agreed on new health regulations, but they do not mention “bird flu”, a “bird flu vaccine” or arresting people.

False — The claim is inaccurate.

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