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WHO condemns testing of vaccine in Africa

By Tatenda Marwodzi

The World Health Organisation has condemned suggestions by French scientists to have coronavirus vaccines tested in Africa citing the remarks as racist.

Last week head of ICU services at Cochin Hospital in Paris, Dr Jean-Paul Mira, and Camile Locht, director of research for France’s National Institute of Health and Medical Research, proposed that treatment for coronavirus be tested in Africa.

According to the two scientists, Africa is an ideal testing ground because of the lack of face masks, ICUs and treatment that makes the continent highly exposed. “A bit like it is done for some studies on AIDS, wherewith prostitutes, we try things because we know that they are highly exposed and they don’t protect themselves,” said Dr Mira.

These remarks sparked outburst and panic particularly in Africa with many worried that if the clinical trial is approved it would lead to a bigger problem.

Fortunately, WHO has rightly condemned these recommendations. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “Africa will not be a testing ground for any vaccine. The hangover from colonial mentality has to stop.” According to WHO, if any clinical trials need to be done, the proper protocol will be followed and no continent will be favoured over another. Locht has since apologised for the insensitive remarks.

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