No coronavirus vaccine should turn Africans into lab rats

Thought using Africans to develop vaccines was a thing of colonial times past? Think again

Photo/Gustavo Fring

In a jaw dropping interview about coronavirus on French TV last week, Doctor Jean-Paul Mira, head of the intensive care unit at the Cochin Hospital, Paris asked a research scientist, "shouldn't we do this study in Africa where there are no masks, treatment, or intensive care, a little bit like we did in certain AIDS studies or with prostitutes?" Needless to say, many took to social media to express their outrage at such a statement, and soon, #AfricansAreNotLabRats was trending. 

Professor Locht, research director at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, replied "You're right. We are thinking of a parallel study in Africa to use this same kind of approach with the BCG [tuberculosis vaccination] placebos". 

The uproar led to public apologies from both individuals as well as their employers, but in truth, this "incident" demonstrated the dark realities of global healthcare and research.