Two French doctors have been accused of racism after asking that the coronavirus vaccines be tested in Africa.
Jean-Paul Mira, chief of intensive care at the Cochin hospital in Paris, and Camille Locht, head of research within the health research group Inserm, both declared on French television that there was reason to test vaccines in African countries.
The pair faced a quick reaction online, with many saying the comments were racist.
But Inserm maintained that the doctors had been misunderstood.
What did the doctors say?
“If I can be provocative, shouldn’t we be doing this study in Africa, where there are no masks, no treatments, no resuscitation? Dr. Mira said on the LCI television channel.
“A bit like it is done elsewhere for certain studies on AIDS. In prostitutes, we try things because we know that they are very exposed and that they do not protect themselves. “
“You are right,” replied Dr. Locht.
“We are thinking of a parallel study in Africa. “
What was the reaction?
The comments received an angry response on social media, including former footballers Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o.
“Don’t take Africans as human guinea pigs!” It is absolutely disgusting, “he added.
Eto’o called the doctors “murderers”.
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But Inserm said in a statement that the video was “misinterpreted.”
“Clinical trials to test the effectiveness of the BCG vaccine against Covid-19 are … about to be launched in European countries and Australia,” the statement said.
“If there is a reflection on 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 mainly given to babies in countries where tuberculosis is common.
Some recent studies have suggested that countries where BCG is administered have reported fewer Covid-19-related deaths.
What is the situation of coronaviruses in Africa?
Africa has so far been the continent least affected by the virus, but confirmed cases – and deaths – are increasing.
South Africa has the most confirmed cases – 1,462 – but only five confirmed deaths.
There have been 7,064 confirmed cases across the continent and 290 confirmed deaths, although there are fears that the actual number could be much higher.
- Live Tracker: Coronavirus in Africa
Italy has the highest death toll in the world, with around 14,000 dead.