World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has condemned controversial comments made by French doctors about testing a Covid-19 potential treatment first in Africa, calling the remarks a “hangover from a colonial mentality.”
“To be honest, I was so appalled. And it was a time when I said when we needed solidarity — this kind of racist remarks actually would not help, it goes against the solidarity,”
Tedros said during a WHO media briefing in Geneva on Monday.He was referring to remarks made last week by Dr. Jean-Paul Mira, head of ICU services at the Cochin Hospital in Paris, and Camille Locht, research director for France’s National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm).
The two doctors appeared last Wednesday on French TV network on LCI, where they discussed whether the BCG tuberculosis vaccine could be a potential treatment for Covid-19. The drug is undergoing clinical trials for that purpose in the Netherlands and Australia.
That’s when Mira suggested Africa could be the ideal place to conduct a clinical trial.
“If I could be provocative,” Mira prefaced the question, before adding, “Should we not do this study in Africa, where there are no [face]masks, no treatments and no ICUs?”
“A bit like it is done for some studies on AIDS, where with prostitutes, we try things because we know that they are highly exposed and they don’t protect themselves,” he added during a conversation.”You are right,” Loch replied.
“And we are in the process of thinking about a study in Africa in parallel to carry out the same type of approach with BCG, a placebo …”