Tedros Adhanom

Ethiopian microbiologist, malaria researcher, and politician, Director-General of the World Health Organization

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Ge'ez: ቴዎድሮስ አድሓኖም ገብረኢየሱስ; born 3 March 1965) is an Ethiopian politician, academic, and public-health authority as well as director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) since 2017. He held this position during the COVID-19 pandemic, the largest recorded pandemic in over a century. He served in the Government of Ethiopia as Minister of Health from 2005 to 2012 and as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2012 to 2016.

Tedros Adhanom
I’m grateful that so many young people are spreading the word and not the virus.


  • Tobacco not only wrecks health and health systems; it’s a drain on economies and the environment. [...] We must strengthen our efforts and scale up our actions while facing increasing interference from the tobacco industry. We are all familiar with the catalogue of deception, lies and half-truths in which tobacco industry specializes.
  • In the past two weeks, the number of cases of COVID-19 outside China has increased 13-fold, and the number of affected countries has tripled. [...] Thousands more are fighting for their lives in hospitals. In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher. [...] We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.
  • Every day, COVID-19 seems to reach a new and tragic milestone. More than 210,000 cases have now been reported to WHO, and more than 9,000 people have lost their lives. Every loss of life is a tragedy. It’s also motivation to double down and do everything we can to stop transmission and save lives. We also need to celebrate our successes. Yesterday, Wuhan reported no new cases for the first time since the outbreak started. Wuhan provides hope for the rest of the world, that even the most severe situation can be turned around. Of course, we must exercise caution – the situation can reverse. But the experience of cities and countries that have pushed back this virus give hope and courage to the rest of the world.
  • Every day, we are learning more about this virus and the disease it causes. One of the things we are learning is that although older people are the hardest hit, younger people are not spared. Data from many countries clearly show that people under 50 make up a significant proportion of patients requiring hospitalization. Today, I have a message for young people: you are not invincible. This virus could put you in hospital for weeks, or even kill you. Even if you don’t get sick, the choices you make about where you go could be the difference between life and death for someone else. I’m grateful that so many young people are spreading the word and not the virus. As I keep saying, solidarity is the key to defeating COVID-19 - solidarity between countries, but also between age groups. Thank you for heeding our call for solidarity, solidarity, solidarity.
  • We’ve said from the beginning that our greatest concern is the impact this virus could have if it gains a foothold in countries with weaker health systems, or with vulnerable populations. That concern has now become very real and urgent. We know that if this disease takes hold in these countries, there could be significant sickness and loss of life. But that is not inevitable. Unlike any pandemic in history, we have the power to change the way this goes.
  • There was a premature push to, you know, especially reduce one of the options, like the lab theory [...] I was a lab technician myself — I'm an immunologist and have worked in the lab — and lab accidents happen. It's common. I have seen it happening, and I have myself had errors. So it can happen. And checking what happened, especially in our labs, is important. And we need information direct information on what the situation of these labs was before and at the start of the pandemic. Then, if we get full information, we can exclude that. So one of the challenges, again, is, you know, a challenge of access and also transparency with regard to the hypothesis that are put. [...] One of the challenges is … access to raw data, especially the data at the start of the pandemic — the raw data was not shared, [...] And now, we have designed the second phase of the study, and we are asking, actually, China to be transparent, open, and cooperate — especially on the information, raw data that we asked for at the early days of the pandemic.
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