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French Doctors Suggest Testing COVID-19 Vaccine On 'Poor Africans' & Spark Outrage
Comments made by two French doctors have sparked criticism for suggesting that a vaccine for the novel coronavirus should be tested on poor people in Africa.
The comments were made on the French television channel LCI during a discussion about how COVID-19 trials were set to begin across Europe and Australia.
“It may be provocative. Should we not do this study in Africa where there are no masks, no treatment or intensive care, a little bit like it’s been done for certain AIDS studies, where among prostitutes, we try things because we know that they are highly exposed and don’t protect themselves?” said Jean-Paul Mira, head of the intensive care unit at the Cochin Hospital in Paris.
Camille Locht, research director at France’s national health institute, Inserm, added, “you are right. And by the way, we are thinking of in parallel about a study in Africa using this same approach.”
Didier Drogba, a retired professional soccer player from the Ivory Coast, was one of the first people to speak out.
It is totally inconceivable we keep on cautioning this.— Didier Drogba (@didierdrogba) April 2, 2020
Africa isn’t a testing lab.
I would like to vividly denounce those demeaning, false and most of all deeply racists words.
Helps us save Africa with the current ongoing Covid 19 and flatten the curve. pic.twitter.com/41GIpXaIYv
SOS Racisme, an anti-racism advocacy group shared the same sentiments as Drogba. In a shared statement, the group said, “no, Africans are not guinea pigs,” adding, “don’t these words reveal contempt for black bodies[…]?”
Non, les Africains ne sont pas des cobayes ! https://t.co/6XJ4DAl0Om— SOS Racisme (@SOS_Racisme) April 2, 2020
Meanwhile, Locht’s employer posted a statement with the hashtag #FakeNews alleging that the remarks were taken out of context, as reported in Al Jazeera.
“A distorted video, taken from an interview on LCI with one of our researchers about a study on the potential use of the BCG vaccine against COVID-19, is now the subject of erroneous interpretation,” adding that Africa “shouldn’t be forgotten or excluded from this research because the pandemic is global”.
Mira, however, apologized in a statement published by his employer.
“I want to present all my apologies to those who were hurt, shocked and felt insulted by the remarks that I clumsily expressed on LCI this week,” he said.
COVID-19 Cases Around The World
The latest data shows that more than 1 million people have tested positive for the coronavirus and more than 69,000 people have died.
As cases of the coronavirus increase around the world, Africa is currently the continent least affected with less than 10,000 cases.
That’s significantly lower than the United States where there are close to 350,000 confirmed cases and close to 132,000 in Spain, according to the Johns Hopkins University & Medicine tracker.