WHO boss says Africa not testing ground for coronavirus vaccine, terms remarks as ‘racist’


WHO boss says Africa not testing ground for coronavirus vaccine, terms remarks as 'racist'
WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a past address. PHOTO | COURTESY

In Summary

  • Addressing a press conference on Monday, Dr. Ghebreyesus termed the remarks as “racist” and an extension of the “colonial mentality.”
  • Dr. Ghebreyesus urged the world to embrace solidarity in order to combat the Covid-19 pandemic saying human beings are all equal.

World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has condemned recent remarks by two French doctors suggesting that the coronavirus vaccine should be tested in Africa.

Addressing a press conference on Monday, Dr. Ghebreyesus termed the remarks as “racist” and an extension of the “colonial mentality.”

Dr. Ghebreyesus urged the world to embrace solidarity in order to combat the Covid-19 pandemic saying human beings are all equal.

“There was a comment last week from some scientists who said the testing ground for the new vaccine should be in Africa. To be honest, I was so appalled, and it was a time when we needed solidarity and this kind of racist remarks would not help. Africa cannot and will not be a testing ground for any vaccine,” said the WHO boss.

“We will follow all the rules to test any vaccines or therapeutics all over the world using exactly the same rule; whether it’s in Europe, Africa or wherever, we will follow the same protocol to treat human beings the same way equally.”

He further added: “…the hangover from a colonial mentality has to stop, and WHO will not allow this to happen, it was a disgrace to hear these kind of remarks during the 21st century from scientists. We condemn this with the strongest terms possible, and we assure you that this will not happen in Africa.”

French doctors Jean-Paul Mira and his colleague Camille Locht last week attracted the ire of Africans online after they seemingly intimated that a potential coronavirus treatment should be tested in Africa first.

During a televised show, Dr. Jean-Paul Mira said the tests would yield better results when carried out in Africa where there are “no masks” and “no treatment” for the novel coronavirus.

“If I can be provocative, shouldn’t we do this study in Africa, where there are no masks, no treatment, no resuscitation, a bit like it has been done in some studies in AIDS, where among prostitutes, we try things, because they are exposed,” said Dr Mira.

His colleague, Dr. Camille Locht chimed in saying that Africa, which “is incapable of battling the pandemic”, should test the treatment first as it has “no chance of stopping the virus in any other way.”

“Africa needs a new treatment at first, because they don’t have a chance to stop the virus in any other way. A healing there first would save 100,000 of lives more, than in the reality save European countries,” Locht quipped.

The show angered Africans on social media with retired footballer Didier Drogba taking to Twitter to express his distaste at the remarks.

“It is totally inconceivable we keep on cautioning this. 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,” Drogba wrote.

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Story By Ian Omondi
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