GENEVA (AA)/ LONDON (The Muslim News): The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) condemned on Monday in the “strongest possible terms” two French scientists who suggested Africa be used as a testing ground for a vaccine against the novel coronavirus. He called their views as “racist” and a hangover from the “colonial mentality.”
“Africa cannot and will not be a testing ground for any vaccine. We will follow all the rules to test any vaccine or therapeutics all over the world, using exactly the same rule,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, an Ethiopian national, referring to comments made last week by the scientists.
Speaking at a WHO video press conference, he said: “Whether it’s in Europe, Africa, or wherever, we will use the same protocol.”
“To be honest I was so appalled and it was a time when I said we needed solidarity. These kind of racist remarks will not help. It goes against the solidarity… The hangover from colonial mentality has to stop. WHO will not allow this to happen.
“It was a disgrace actually, appalling to hear during the 21st century from scientists, that kind of remark. We condemn this in the strongest terms possible.
“But we assure you that this will not happen in Africa and will not happen 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 said.
“And the hangover from a colonial mentality has to stop,” said Tedros, adding: “WHO will not allow this to happen.”
Professors Jean-Paul Mira of Cochin Hospital in Paris and Camille Locht of INSERM (France’s national medical research centre) were debating possible COVID-19 cures on French television channel La Chaine Info last Thursday.
Dr Jean-Paul Mira said “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, and they don’t protect themselves, what do you think?”
Dr Camille Locht joined the conversation saying “So you are right[…]we’re thinking in parallel to a study in Africa precisely to make this same type of approach w/ BCG [vaccine]placebo.”
On social media users expressed anger over the development with some popular figures such as former football star Didier Drogba tweeting, “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.”
UmmZakaria@aiyshahaq tweeted: “People never change do they? No wonder they find it difficult to apologise or acknowledge past crimes because they would be willing to commit those crimes again at the drop of a hat.”
Over 1.3 million cases have been reported worldwide, with the global death toll nearing 74,000, and more than 275,800 recoveries.
[Photo: A view of nearly empty Place de la Concorde and Champs Elysees following the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Paris, France on March 31, 2020. Julien Mattia/AA]