‘Racist’ plan to test virus vaccines on Africans slammed by World Health Organisation

The World Health Organisation has lashed out at suggestions that potential vaccines for COVID-19 should be tested on people in African nations.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said vaccines would not be tested on Africans. Picture: AFP
Their response comes after two doctors were accused of racism on a French TV debate about a vaccine trial in Europe and Australia to see if BCG tuberculosis vaccine could be used to treat the virus.

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? Jean-Paul Mira, head of the intensive care unit at the Cochin Hospital in Paris, said.

Camille Locht, research director at France's national health institute, Inserm, said he was right.

We are in the process of thinking about a study in parallel in Africa, he said.

Their comments attracted widespread outrage, with former football player Didier Drogba calling them “deeply racist”.

Do not take African people as human guinea pigs! It’s absolutely disgusting, he said.

Fellow former footballer Samuel Eto’o called the doctors “murderers”.

Former Cameroon international footballer Samuel Eto’o (left) and Former Ivory Coast international footballer Didier Drogba (right)
Olivier Faure, of France's Socialist Party, said the remarks were hardly a provocation.

It's not provocation, it's just racism, he wrote on Twitter. Africa is not the laboratory of Europe. Africans are not rats!

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom ruled out such a proposal.

Africa cannot, and will not, be a testing ground for any vaccine, he said.
We will follow all the rules to test any vaccine or therapeutics all over the world using exactly the same rule, whether it's in Europe, Africa or wherever. We will use the same protocol and, if there is a need to be tested elsewhere to treat human beings, the same way, equally.

Mr Adhanom said the hangover from a colonial mentality had to stop.

And WHO will not allow this to happen. And it was disgrace actually, and appalling, to hear during the 21st century from scientists that kind of remark, he said.

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