Article by Khanyi Moshia
On Friday, the 3rd of April 2020, Jean-Paul Mira, the head of the intensive care unit at the Cochin hospital in Paris apologised for suggesting a possible treatment for the Coronavirus pandemic to be tested in Africa.
The French doctor made the comments on Wednesday during an interview on French television channel LCI, which sparked an outcry on social media.
Research director, Camille Locht, was discussing the BCG tuberculosis vaccine, which is being trialled in Australia and several European countries against the Coronavirus. Dr Mira responded by asking: “If I could be provocative, should we not do this study in Africa where there are no masks, treatment or intensive care, a little bit like it’s done, by the way, for certain AIDS studies or with prostitutes?”
“We try things because we know that they are highly exposed and they don’t protect themselves,” he said.
Two French doctors proposed the idea of testing a potential coronavirus vaccine in Africa. Their comments sparked outrage online, with many calling them racist pic.twitter.com/r5Rm0NKLFF
— TRT World (@trtworld) April 5, 2020
Research director, Camille Locht responded: “You are right. And by the way, we are in the process of thinking in parallel about a study in Africa”.
The comments triggered a lot of outrage on social media as people commented that Africans are not guinea pigs, and that Europe and the United States needed the vaccine more as they have more Covid-19 cases compared to Africa, as a continent.
Ivory Coast and Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the likes of Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba in standing up against the denouncing and racist remarks by the two Frenchmen. In addition to that, a Moroccan lawyers’ collective said it was going to sue Mira for racial defamation.
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
ITALY🇮🇹 —11596 Deaths
USA 🇺🇸— 2988 Deaths
AFRICA (Whole continent)🌍- 23 & the world want to Start vaccine in Africa.#NoToVaccineTestingInAfrica pic.twitter.com/avqBXjwYml
— 🇿🇦 𝕿𝖍𝖊𝖒𝖇𝖆 𝕽𝖙𝖎𝖟𝖙𝖎𝖐 𝕹𝖉𝖑𝖔𝖛𝖚 ❁ (@Themba_Ndlovu_) April 5, 2020
Here’s what other Africans had to say:
We are not for Sale
We don't belong to you
our body is ours and we will not let you inject it with your poison.
— SO Saliu (@Xherifudiin) April 5, 2020
The Paris network of of hospitals quoted Dr Mira as saying: saying: “I want to present all my apologies to those who were hurt, shocked and felt insulted by the remarks that I clumsily expressed on LCI this week.”
Locht could not be reached for a comment, but Inserm said they video was misinterpreted as the vaccine is currently being trialled in Australia and Europe.