The Director general of World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has angrily slammed recent comments made by two French doctors suggesting a vaccine for covid-19 should be tested in Africa, as “racist” and a remnant of the “colonial mentality.
During a TV program, which aired on the French channel LCI last week, two French medical experts, Camille Locht, head of research at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) and Jean-Paul Mira, head of intensive care at Cochin Hospital in Paris, discussed whether Africa could be a good test location for the coronavirus vaccine.
At one point, they suggested Africa was a possible location, as people did not have masks, treatments or resuscitation.
During a virtual TV press conference Monday WHO chief described their utterances as a disgrace in the 21st century.
“t was a disgrace, appalling, to hear during the 21st century, to hear from scientists, that kind of remark. We condemn this in the strongest terms possible, and we assure you that this will not happen” he said
The discussion sparked widespread condemnations across the African continent in particular and the world in general with many, including Ivory Coast and international footballer Didier Drogba, taking to social media to express disgust at the “racist” views and that “Africa isn’t a testing lab.”
The French embassy in South Africa on Saturday expressed dismay at the comments made by the French doctors.
It comes as world powers are racing to find an antidote to the contagion which has so far infected more than 1.3million people globally and killed over 70,000. Scientists say a vaccine is estimated to be 12 to 18 months away from now.