WHO boss condemns ‘racist’ COVID-19 comments

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has condemned comments by two French doctors who recently suggested that a vaccine for the deadly coronavirus pandemic should be tested in Africa.

The doctors' remarks were made during a French TV show in which Camille Locht, head of research at Inserm, a medical research group, was talking about vaccine trials in Europe and Australia.



One of the guests on the show, Jean-Paul Mira, the head of intensive care at Cochin Hospital in Paris, said: "If I can be provocative, shouldn't we be doing this study in Africa, where there are no masks, no treatment, and no resuscitation?


"A bit like it is done elsewhere for some studies on AIDS. In prostitutes, we try things because we know that they are highly exposed and that they do not protect themselves."

Locht nodded in agreement at this suggestion, and said: "You are right. We are in the process of thinking about a parallel study in Africa.”

The comments sparked backlash as many people around the world took to social media to condemn what some described as attempts to treat Africans like "human guinea pigs".

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general, World Health Organisation, has since added his voice to the growing chorus of condemnation against what he described as “racist” remarks.

“WHO condemns comments by researchers referring to Africa as "testing ground" for vaccine” he wrote.

Tedros had earlier told BBC that "It was a disgrace, appalling, to hear during the 21st Century, from scientists, that kind of remark. We condemn this in the strongest terms possible, and we assure you that this will not happen."


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