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Outrage after French doctors call for coronavirus vaccine to be tested in Africa

Two French doctors have stirred controversy after suggesting on live TV that a possible treatment for Covid-19 should be tested in Africa.

Dr Jean-Paul Mira, the head of intensive care at Cochin Hospital in Paris, and Dr Camille Locht, the head of research at the Inserm health research group, both suggested that the coronavirus vaccine should be tested on Africans, sparking outrage on social media.

During a televised show, one Dr Mira said the tests would yield better results when carried out in Africa where there are “no masks and no treatment” for the novel coronavirus.

“If I can be provocative, shouldn’t we do this study in Africa, where there are no masks, no treatment, no resuscitation, a bit like it has been done in some studies in Aids, where among prostitutes, we try things, because they are exposed,” Dr Mira said.

Dr Mira had earlier questioned whether the study would work as planned on healthcare workers in Europe and Australia because they had access to personal protective equipment to prevent them from catching the virus.

Dr Locht agrees with Mira saying, “We are in the process of thinking about a study in parallel in Africa.”

A number of questionable clinical trials have been carried out by the West in various parts of Africa which have led to a general feeling of distrust around certain vaccines and new treatments.

The comments triggered outrage on social media.

“Africa isn’t a testing lab,” retired Ivory Coast soccer star, Didier Drogba, wrote on Twitter. “I would like to vividly denounce those demeaning, false and most of all deeply racist words.”

Samuel Eto’o.called the doctors “murderers”.

But Inserm said in a statement that the video was “the subject of erroneous interpretations”.

“Clinical trials to test the efficacy of the BCG vaccine against Covid-19 are… about to be launched in European countries and in Australia,” it said.

“If there is indeed a reflection around 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.”

On Friday, Dr Mira apologised for his comments, saying in a statement released by his employer: “I want to present all my apologies to those who were hurt, shocked and felt insulted by the remarks that I clumsily expressed on LCI this week.”