Testing Covid-19 vaccines on Africans: Africans are not guinea pigs!

Two French doctors have suggested testing Covid-19 vaccines in Africa, reasons: “they haven’t got masks, no treatment, no intensive care system”. The suggestion that Africans could be used as guinea pigs could not go well with Africans on social media.

Two French medical experts have been overloaded on social media because of their remarkable comments on the television channel LCI about testing coronavirus vaccines on Africans. The suggestion that Africans could be used as guinea pigs becomes the subject of a complaint to the French media regulator.

According to RFI, the head of the intensive care unit at Cochin Hospital in Paris, Jean-Paul Mira, then suggests carrying out these studies in Africa. “If I was a bit provocative, I would say that we could go and do tests in Africa. They haven’t got masks, no treatment, no intensive care system. We could go and test there,” suggests the doctor

He continues that “it’s a bit like when we tested vaccines against AIDS on prostitutes because we knew that they don’t protect themselves,” he added, making a comparison with Africans to prostitutes while discussing the use of a BCG vaccine for tuberculosis against Covid-19.

Opposite, Camille Locht agrees with the proposal: “You are right, we are in the process of thinking about a study in parallel in Africa”. The sequence was notably spotted by rapper Dosseh, before being more widely taken up and criticized.

The comments were part of a debate on French news channel LCI with Camille Locht, research director at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm), who agreed with Mira on the principle of testing any kind of vaccine on the African continent.

‘African lab rats’

Linking Africans to prostitutes and using them to test possible Covid-19 vaccines has caused a storm on social media. Rachid Temal, senator for Val-d’Oise, said the comments about treating Africans as lab rats wanted to make him vomit.

“An uninhibited mix of racism, sexism, and dehumanization,” said journalist Fabrice Wuimo. “You’re just shit, Africa is not your playground,” said Cameroonian football star Samuel Eto’o.

Drogba Didier, the former striker of the Olympique de Marseille (OM) team and ex-captain of the Ivorian National Team, also expressed his anger at this decision. According to him, “Africa is not a laboratory. I strongly denounce these serious, racist and contemptuous remarks! Help us save lives in Africa and stop the spread of this virus, which is destabilizing the whole world, instead of considering ourselves as guinea pigs. It is absurd! African leaders have a responsibility to protect people from these heinous plots.”

Anti-racism group SOS Racisme said it had submitted a complaint to the French media regulator, saying the comments about making Africans guinea pigs were colonial in nature and unacceptable.

Inserm called the shortened video of the fake news, referring to efforts of testing the use of the BCG vaccine against Covid-19 in other countries. “Africa must not be forgotten or excluded from this research because the pandemic is global,” a statement from the research institute said.

Contacted by The HuffPost, Jean-Paul Mira denies any form of racism and says he is deeply struck by such accusations, sorry also if his words were not “clear”.

He explains that he was taken aback in a rapid exchange, and above all that he wanted to refer also to the various studies mentioned by INSERM.

As of today, France has Coronavirus Cases: 59,105 deaths: 5,387, while recovered are 12,428 people. In Africa, there are 7, 110 total number of confirmed cases, and 6, 159 cases still under treatment. 659 People were recovered, and 292 deaths recorded so far.

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