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 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. pic.twitter.com/41GIpXaIYv
— Didier Drogba (@didierdrogba) April 2, 2020
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 1 April 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:
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.