Over the past few months, the world has been brought to its knees. COVID-19 has proved that racial equality is achievable. The virus doesn't indulge in supremacy or racism – it has no respect for social status, educational exposure, or religious belief, it is attacking us all.
Now, it's no news that the United States and the European nations remain the most hit regions in the world besides China, the COVID-19 center of origin, which is drastically recovering. So while scientists and researchers around the world take action to find temporary vaccines that can alleviate the symptoms of COVID-19, many parts of the world remain on lockdown.
Amidst this critical moment in our history, French researchers Dr. Jean-Paul Mira and Camille Locht triggered the wrath of Africans at home and in the diaspora when they suggested Africa was the best location for testing their BCG vaccine. According to both scientists, Africans are highly exposed to and don't protect themselves.
“If I was a bit provocative, I would say that we could go and do tests in Africa. They haven’t got masks, no treatment, no intensive care system, we could go and test there,” said Dr. Mira, the head of the intensive care unit at Cochin Hospital in Paris.
“It’s a bit like when we tested vaccines against AIDS on prostitutes because we knew that they don’t protect themselves,” he added.
The comments were part of a debate on French news channel LCI with Camille Locht, research director at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm), who agreed with Dr. Mira.
According to COVID-19 statistics at the time this statement was made by Dr. Mira, the overall mortality rate in Africa was 23. In comparison, France has already recorded more than 7,000 deaths. This begs the question, "Why Africa?" Does it mean the French scientists are genuinely interested in the health and wellness of African nations more than their own people? Were we supposed to digest this idea as a genuine act of kindness and concern towards the African race - a renowned “bromance” between the two continents? I’ll let you decide.
No matter what decision you make, Dr. Mira's statement can be interpreted as-Africans are less human and no one cares if they have complications from the vaccine or if it totally wiped them out completely. Although this might sound a bit overboard, both Dr. Mira and Locht need to provide a better explanation as to why they'd choose Africa as a test base.
Africa is a developing continent, so it is undeniable that with the spread of COVID-19, masks and medical facilities are likely to be in short supply (just as in several other locations.) However, even in her transitioning state, Africa will unite as one to reject the idea of being at the mercy of scientific racism and neo-colonialism.
COVID-19 is a global concern. Any vaccine that could prevent death is highly welcomed, but it is a crime against humanity to imply Africa and Africans are experimental mice. It's a wake-up call for African leaders. They must resolutely oppose any treatment that promotes racism, discrimination, and dehumanization of the African people. What's good for the goose should also be good for the gander.
Africans are NOT lab rats.