Two African football legends have condemned comments by two French doctors who recently suggested, in a TV discussion about medical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine, that they be used on Africans first.
Didier Drodga said that the suggestion was taking “African people as human guinea pigs,” adding in another tweet that “Africa isn’t a testing lab”:
It is totally inconceivable we keep on cautioning this, Africa is not 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.
Former Cameroonian football Samuel Eto’o called the doctors “assassins”.
The doctors’ comments were also criticised by ant-racist groups and many others commenting online.
The April 1st clip from French TV channel LCI featuring Dr Jean-Paul Mira and Dr Camille Locht has been widely shared online.
In it Dr Mira, from Cochin hospital in Paris, proposes that a medical trial for a Covid-19 vaccine should be carried out in Africa as it had been done in studies relating to Aids:
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.”
Dr Camille Locht, from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm), agreed with Dr Mira, saying:
You are right, we are in the thinking of a parallel study in Africa to use this same approach with BCG placebos.”
Following the controversy, Inserm said in a statement that the video was “the subject of erroneous interpretations”:
Its statement said that:
“Clinical trials to test the efficacy of the BCG vaccine against Covid-19 are… about to be launched in European countries and in Australia.
If there is indeed a reflection around a deployment in Africa, it would be done in parallel with these. Africa must not be forgotten or excluded from research because the pandemic is global.”
BCG is a vaccination mostly given to babies in countries where tuberculosis is common.
Some recent studies have suggested that countries where BCG is administered reported fewer deaths related to Covid-19.