Two esteemed French doctors have openly stated on French television that any new vaccine created to combat COVID-19 should first be tested on impoverished people in Africa. The two doctors, Jean-Paul Mira and Camille Locht, speaking on French broadcast network LCI said that Africa should be ground zero for testing of a new vaccine because poor people there have less medical supplies and equipment. Their highly offensive conversation went as follows:
JEAN-PAUL MIRA: “If I can be provocative, 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.”
CAMILLE LOCHT: “You’re right. We are actually thinking of a parallel study in Africa to use with the same kind of approach with BGC placebos. We will in fact think seriously about it.”
The conversation sparked outrage and bewilderment among many observers, who no doubt know the long history of colonial Europe and Medical Apartheid. One of Africa’s lead football stars, Didier Drogba (from Ivory Coast) declared, “Africa is not a testing lab. I would like to vividly denounce those demeaning, false and most of all deeply racist words.” Demba Ba tweeted, “Welcome to the West, where white people believe themselves to be so superior that racism and debility become commonplace.” To say that what the doctors discussed was based on anything other than racism that allows white people to view Africa as their medical testing grounds would be disingenuous. Africa as a whole has done a much better job of preventing the spread of the virus. The entire continent from north to south, east to west has had a total of 6,700 cases, whereas France alone has had almost 60,000 cases. Perhaps either France or Italy should be ground zero for any future testing of a vaccine.