The World Health Organisation (WHO) says Africa will not be used as a testing ground for COVID-19 vaccine. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said this during a media briefing on Monday.
The director-general was reacting to statements credited to Jean Paul Mira and Camille Locht, two French doctors, who were seen on television discussing “Africa as best destination to conduct test for COVID-19 vaccine”.
The two doctors cited the use of prostitutes in Africa to carry out vaccine test for the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) as an example.
Mira, head of the resuscitation department at Cochin Hospital, also said the continent should be considered because of its perceived toughness to disease outbreaks.
But Ghebreyesus, an Ethiopian, described the statement as “racist” and a hangover of “colonial mentality”. He condemned the statement, saying it is a “disgrace” on scholars in the 21st century.
The WHO director-general said the continent will not be used for such a experiment except in line with the rules governing test of vaccine all over the world.
“Africa can’t and won’t be a testing ground for any vaccine. We will follow all the rules to test any vaccine or therapeutics all over the world using exactly the same rule, whether it is in Europe, Africa or wherever, we will use the same protocol,” he said.
“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.”
Although Mira apologised for his comments after a backlash, the statement by the two doctors had provoked an outrage on social media.
Top footballers Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o had described it as shocking and provocative.