French scientists who suggested that COVID-19 vaccines should be tested in Africa have provoked the anger of the World Health Organization (WHO) and its director-general.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has described the two French scientists as “racist” and guilty of a “colonial mentality”, according to AfricaNews.
Speaking at a daily briefing on April 6, the Ethiopian head of the WHO said that “Africa cannot and will not be a testing ground for any vaccine.”
“We will follow all the rules to test any vaccine or therapeutics all over the world suing exactly the same rule … whether it is in Europe, Africa or wherever,” said Tedros.
The backlash from WHO came after respected French doctors and scientists Jean-Paul Mira and Camille Locht said during a live broadcast on French TV channel LCI that vaccine testing should be done in Africa “where there are no masks, no treatment, nor intensive care.”
Tedros said the World Health Organization condemned the suggestion in the strongest terms possible.
“To be honest I was so appalled and it was a time when I said we needed solidarity. These kind of racist remarks will not help,” he said.
“It goes against the solidarity… The hangover from colonial mentality has to stop. WHO will not allow this to happen,” the director-general added.
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Africa has confirmed around 11,000 cases of coronavirus, with initial index cases traveling to Egypt, Nigeria and other affected African countries from China and Europe.
In comparison, France has more than 117,000 confirmed cases and at least 12,200 French people have died due to the COVID-19 pandemic.