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FactCheck: No, Leo Varadkar did not say he supports forced vaccination against Covid-19

A clip from a speech Varadkar made at the Global Vaccine Summit has been used to claim he said he supports forced vaccination for everyone in Ireland.

Image: Shutterstock/Alexandros Michailidis

A YOUTUBE VIDEO that has been reshared on Facebook claims that Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he supports everyone in Ireland being forcibly vaccinated against Covid-19 against their will.

The claim draws on a speech Varadkar made at the virtual Global Vaccine Summit 2020 in June.

Between YouTube and Facebook, the claim has been seen over 150,000 times.

The Claim

A 37-second video clip posted to YouTube with the title “Leo Vardka [sic] – Forced Vaccinations For All Irish People” has claimed that Varadkar said that he supports everyone in Ireland being vaccinated against their will.

The caption of the video clip says: “Elite puppet Leo Varadkar tells the Global Vaccine Summit 2020 that he is in full support to vaccinate ALL people of Ireland against their will under the guise of us all being kept ‘safe’. [sic]” The clip has been viewed over 10,600 times since it was posted on 11 June.

The YouTube video has been shared as a post on several Facebook pages, which have collectively been seen 157,800 times.

The Evidence

The clip posted to YouTube is taken from a speech Varadkar made at the virtual Global Vaccine Summit 2020 while he was Taoiseach.

The virtual Global Vaccine Summit was hosted by the UK and took place on 4 June.

The summit raised $8.8 billion (€7.37 billion) in pledges from a number of countries for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which is an organisation that helps improve access to vaccines for children in the world’s poorest countries.

The pledges will be put towards protecting an additional 300 million children against infectious diseases.

The YouTube clip, which is 37 seconds long, only presents a part of Varadkar’s speech at the event.

In the section included in the YouTube video, Varadkar says: “Never before have so many been working so hard to develop a new vaccine, and all around the world, researchers are working in innovative collaboration using cutting edge medical technologies to find a vaccine for Covid-19.

“We hope they are successful, and quickly. This vaccine will need to be affordable, as well as effective, because if we’re to be safe, everyone will need to be safe, so a Covid-19 vaccine will need to be distributed equitably, fairly, and globally – nobody can be left behind, or we’ll all be at risk.”

The YouTube video cuts off at that point and does not present the rest of Varadkar’s speech.

Another section of Varadkar’s speech which the YouTube video does not contain can be read here and watched here.

In his speech, Varadkar pledged €18 million to Gavi from Ireland between 2021 and 2025.

“In a time of crisis, conflict, and Covid-19, we need to protect essential health services including vaccine programmes and avoid disruption,” Varadkar said.

“If Ireland is elected to the Security Council for the 2021/2022 term, we will champion the widest possible immunisation programmes and work to create a delivery system that is resilient strong and fair,” he said.

“So, on behalf of the Irish people, I am today happy to confirm my pledge of €18 million to Gavi, the vaccine alliance, for the period of 2021-2025.

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“It’s part of our mission to enable the furthest behind to access a Covid-19 vaccine and maintain life-saving, routine, immunisation programmes across the world.”

The Irish government was one of 31 that pledged funding to Gavi at the summit.

TheJournal.ie has already debunked false claims which said that Varadkar was taking a case to the Supreme Court to make a coronavirus vaccine mandatory for all.

The Department of the Taoiseach confirmed at the time that a Facebook post making that claim was false.

The Verdict

Varadkar’s reference that “nobody can be left behind” was made in the context of pledging funding to Gavi, which works to provide children in the world’s poorest countries with access to new and underused vaccines.

By not presenting his speech in full, the YouTube clip obscures that context and misrepresents Varadkar’s statement to claim that he said he supports forced vaccination against Covid-19 for everyone in Ireland.

Varadkar, while supportive of vaccines, did not say that he wanted or supported a forced or mandatory Covid-19 vaccine. 

As a result, we rate the claim that Varadkar said he supports forced Covid-19 vaccines in Ireland against people’s will: FALSE. As per our verdict guide, this means: The claim is inaccurate. 

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