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Greta Thunberg defends place on expert COVID-19 panel after widespread ridicule

Newshub logoNewshub 15/05/2020 Matt Burrows

Video provided by Sky News Australia

Greta Thunberg has defended her appearance on an expert panel at a coronavirus event, saying she's not a COVID-19 expert and has never claimed to be one.

CNN, the US television network hosting the Coronavirus Facts and Fears town hall event on Thursday night (local time), has suffered a major backlash after adding the climate activist to the line-up of coronavirus experts.

Thunberg, 17, will be seated alongside former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Richard Besser, 60, and former US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, 71 - two public health experts with decades of experience.

Her placement on the panel has become the subject of fierce social media debate, after New York magazine journalist Yashar Ali questioned what CNN thought she could contribute to the discussion.

"What place does Greta Thunberg have in this town hall?" he wrote.

a woman wearing a black shirt: Related: Greta Thunberg speaks about climate activism at a panel in Spain in late 2019. © Image - Reuters; Video - APTN Related: Greta Thunberg speaks about climate activism at a panel in Spain in late 2019.

"This is a panel of top health experts and administrators. A climate activist would be better suited on a different panel. She's not a climate scientist. It's a matter of placement."

Even Donald Trump Jr, son of the US President, weighed in with a sarcastic tweet of his own.

But Thunberg has now distanced herself from the COVID-19 'expert' tag, claiming those who have labelled her with it are simply trying to sully her reputation.

"Tonight I'll be interviewed on CNN to talk about the new campaign supporting UNICEF during COVID-19 and about being an activist in a world altered by the coronavirus," she wrote on Twitter.

"It seems some people thought I was going to be on an expert panel, which of course has never been the case.

"I am not an expert. I am an activist. The only people claiming that I'm an 'expert' are those who are trying to ridicule me. My message has always been to unite behind the science and listen to the experts."

CNN has not yet publicly commented on Thunberg's inclusion on the panel. 

Pictures: Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak around the world

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