The Director-General of the World Health Organisation, WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, says “Africa cannot, and will not be a testing ground for any vaccine”.
The WHO Director-General made the statement in reaction to a proposal made by some French doctors that the trial of a COVID-19 vaccine, like that of other vaccines, should first be carried out in Africa.
In a press conference, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus condemned the utterances of the French Scientists, noting that their racist suggestion has no place in the modern era.
“There was a comment last week from some couple of scientists who said the testing ground for the virus will be Africa. To be honest, I was so appalled. When we needed solidarity, this kind of racist remarks actually will not help. It goes against the solidarity. Africa cannot, and will not be a testing ground for any vaccine,” he said.
On the possible testing of any vaccine, the WHO Director-General said: “We will follow all the rules to test any vaccine or therapeutics all over the world, using exactly the same rules. Whether it is in Europe or wherever, we will use the same protocol, and if there is a need to be tested elsewhere, we will treat human beings the same way, equally.
“The hangover from colonial mentality has to stop. WHO will not allow this to happen. It was a disgrace actually, and appalling to hear that kind of remark during the 21st Century from scientists. We condemn this with the strongest terms possible. We assure you that this will not happen in Africa, or elsewhere in any country. Proper protocols will be followed, and human beings will be treated as human beings, because we are all human beings,” he stated.
In a TV programme, two French doctors recently suggested that test trials on a COVID-19 vaccine should first be carried out in Africa. In the programme, Dr Jean-Paul Mira, Head of Resuscitation Services at the Cochin Hospital in Paris, proposed that the vaccine can be tested in Africa just like they did with the AIDS studies.
Hear him: “This may be controversial, but shouldn’t we do a study in Africa where they do not have masks, treatments or resuscitation? A little as it is done in AIDS studies where they use prostitutes to test some things because they know that they are highly exposed and do not protect themselves. What do you think?”
Responding to Dr. Mira, Dr. Camille Locht, Director of Research at the French Institute of Health and Medical Research, corroborated his colleague’s proposal.
“You are right. We are thinking of a parallel study in Africa to use this same kind of approach with BCG Placebos. I think there is a request for a proposal. I don’t know if it is out yet or not, and we will think seriously about that too,” he said. The outing of the French scientists sparked outrage, with critics and Africans warning that the West should not treat Africans like Guinea pigs for its experiments. Many questioned why the vaccine should not first be tested in Western Countries which are currently the hardest-hit by COVID-19. Other stakeholders and Pan-Africanists said the remarks portray how the West still view Africa as a property and a tool to use in achieving their goals.