WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus strongly denounced the comments of researchers referring to Africa as “a testing ground” for a vaccine. (drawing) afp.com/Fabrice COFFRINI
The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has condemned as “racist” comments by two French doctors who suggested a vaccine for the coronavirus could be tested in Africa.
“Africa can’t and won’t be a testing ground for any vaccine,” the head of WHO said during the organisation’s coronavirus briefing.
He became visibly angry, calling it a hangover from the “colonial mentality”.
“It was a disgrace, appalling, to hear during the 21st Century, to hear from scientists, that kind of remark. We condemn this in the strongest terms possible, and we assure you that this will not happen,” he said.
Debate on French TV channel LCI
During a debate on French TV channel LCI, Camille Locht, head of research at Inserm health research group, was talking about a vaccine trial in Europe and Australia. Jean-Paul Mira, head of intensive care at Cochin hospital in Paris, then said: “If I can be provocative, shouldn’t we be doing this study in Africa, where there are no masks, no treatments, no resuscitation?
“A bit like it is done elsewhere for some studies on Aids. In prostitutes, we try things because we know that they are highly exposed and that they do not protect themselves.”
Mr. Locht nodded in agreement at this suggestion and said: “You are right. We are in the process of thinking about a study in parallel in Africa.”
Dr Mira had earlier questioned whether the study would work as planned on healthcare workers in Australia and Europe because they had access to personal protective equipment (PPE) while working.
The show sparked widespread anger, including from former footballer Didier Drogba, who called the comments “deeply racist”. He added: “Do not take African people as human guinea pigs! It’s absolutely disgusting”.
Fellow former footballer Samuel Eto’o called the doctors “murderers”.
Coronavirus in Africa: 52 countries, 9,393 cases, 445 deaths, 906 recoveries
There are now more than over 9,300 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the continent, with a number of African countries imposing a range of prevention and containment measures.
According to the latest data by Africa Center for Disease Control on COVID-19 in Africa, the breakdown remains fluid as countries confirm cases as and when.
The number of death and infections is still relatively low as compared with the Americas and Europe and the UK.
Governments and health authorities across the continent are striving to limit widespread infections.
With BBC report