Some viewers were left horrified after watching two top French doctors discuss testing a coronavirus vaccine on Africans. They also described Africa as becoming a “giant laboratory.”
During the segment broadcasted on French TV channel LCI, Jean-Paul Mira and Camille Locht spoke of testing new vaccines on poor African populations.
According to Business Insider, Mira is the head of the intensive care department at Paris, France hospital Cochin Hospital and Locht is a research director at Inserm, also known as the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research.
“If I can be provocative,” Mira began, “shouldn’t we do this study in Africa where there are no masks, no treatment, no intensive care? A bit like we did in some studies on AIDS. We tried things on prostitutes because they are highly exposed and do not protect themselves.”
Locht replied, “You are right. We are actually thinking of a parallel study in Africa to use with the same kind of approach with BCG placebos.”
He was referencing the vaccination used to fight tuberculosis that Inserm reports also protects children against infections, including respiratory infections.
“We will, in fact, think seriously about it,” Locht added.
The segment, broadcasted this past Wednesday, induced outrage and accusations that the doctors acted within a white colonial state of mind. Many African leading soccer players, including Didier Drogba from Senegal and Samuel Eto’o from the Ivory Coast, tweeted angry responses to the doctors.
Eto’o tweeted, “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.”
Ba tweeted, “Welcome to the West, where white people believe themselves to be so superior that racism and debility become commonplace.”
Inserm released an official statement on Twitter stating that the proposed idea was “wrongly interpreted” while using the hashtag “#FakeNews.” Inserm is reportedly ranked the world’s second-best research institution.
On Thursday, France has confirmed 59,105 coronavirus cases and 5,387 deaths, while Africa has 6,700 confirmed cases and 229 deaths.