A French doctor who suggested that Africa be used as a testing site for prospective Coronavirus vaccine has apologised for his remark.
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Jean-Paul Mira, an intensive care doctor in Paris, the French capital, apologised on Friday after he received a severe backlash for his “repurposed” tuberculosis African suggestion alongside a colleague on French television on Wednesday.
“I want to present all my apologies to those who were hurt, shocked and felt insulted by the remarks I clumsily expressed,” Mira was quoted as saying by Paris’ clinic network, including Cochin Hospital – where the embattled doctor serves as head of intensive care.
In a broadcast on the channel LCI, Mira discussed with Camille Locht, research head at France’s National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), on the rush to find anti-coronavirus vaccines.
Their focus was BCG, a vaccine against tuberculosis used for decades to help shield health workers and reputed to reduce suffering from respiratory illnesses among children.
On where clinical trials for the vaccine should start, Mira asked: “… shouldn’t we be doing this study in Africa, where there are no masks, no treatment, no intensive care, rather as was done with certain studies on AIDS, where things are tested on prostitutes because it’s known that they are highly exposed (to HIV)?”
Locht replied, saying: “You’re right, we are thinking in parallel by the way about a study in Africa with the same kind of approach, (but) it doesn’t prevent us from being able to think about a study in Europe and Australia at the same time.”
The comments lead to trails of criticism for both Mira and Locht, prominent among them were the voices of Samuel Eto’o Fills and Didier Drogba, African football legends from Cameroon and Cote d’ Ivoire respectively.
A Moroccan lawyers’ collective group had said it would sue Mira for racial defamation.
French group SOS Racisme said Africans aren’t guinea pigs, and France’s CSA broadcast ethics watchdog said it had received a complaint.