World Health Organization boss condemns 'racist' COVID-19 comments

Clay Curtis
April 8, 2020

The director-general was reacting to statements credited to Jean Paul Mira and Camille Locht, two French doctors, who were seen on television discussing "Africa as best destination to conduct test for COVID-19 vaccine".

World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday (March 6) said that face masks alone were no "silver bullet" to defeat COVID-19 coronavirus but added that the use of masks should be done extensively in areas where hand-washing and physical distancing were hard.

Without mentioning any country by name, Tedros also noted that some states are considering the use of both medical and non-medical masks in public to prevent the spread of Covid-19, an issue raised at each World Health Organization press conference.

"We will follow all the rules to test any vaccine or therapeutics all over the world, using exactly the same route, whether it is in Europe, Africa or wherever".

"What is clear is that there is limited research in this area", Tedros said at a press briefing.

"The hang-over from the colonial mentality has to stop".

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" It is shameful and horrifying to hear scientists say such things in the 21st century".

"Of all the other countries, in most instances we are seeing still a concerning rise in the number of cases day after day", he said.

Mr. Tedros did not name the scientists involved, but a heated controversy erupted in France and in Africa, in particular after an exchange between a researcher from the French Institute for Medical Research (Inserm) and a head of the service. a Paris hospital on April 1 on the LCI channel. "We condemn this in the strongest terms possible, and we assure you that this will not happen", he said.

Dr Mira had earlier questioned whether the study would work as planned on healthcare workers in Australia and Europe or not because they had access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) while working.

The show sparked widespread anger, including from former footballer Didier Drogba, who called the comments "deeply racist".

The scientists both agreed that Africa was the best location for their BCG tuberculosis vaccine tests, which is now being tried in Europe and Australia against Covid-19, because of Africa's vulnerabilities.

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