As the world deals with the dangers of COVID-19, statements from two medical professionals have created a furore amidst the African footballing fraternity. From Chelsea’s Didier Drogba to Barcelona and Inter Milan’s Samuel Eto’o, people have voiced their outrage over the “racist and contemptuous” comments made on French television.
On Thursday, two doctors had suggested on television that the testing for a potential antidote to combat COVID-19 should take place in Africa. The comments arose in a discussion regarding the BCG vaccine, which is generally used against tuberculosis.
“If I can be provocative, shouldn’t we do this study in Africa where there are no masks, no treatment, no resuscitation?” said Jean-Paul Mira, head of the intensive care unit at the Cochin Hospital in Paris. To Mira’s question, Camille Locht, research director at Inserm had said, “You are right. We are currently thinking in parallel about a study in Africa to make this same type of approach with the BCG.”
Drogba took to Twitter on Friday and the two-time African Footballer of the Year exclaimed that African people shouldn’t be used “as guinea pigs”.
Let us save ourselves from this crazy virus that is plummeting the world economy and ravaging populations health worldwide.
Do not take African people as human guinnea pigs! It’s absolutely disgusting…
— Didier Drogba (@didierdrogba) April 2, 2020
“It is totally inconceivable we keep on cautioning this. Africa isn’t a testing lab. I would like to vividly denounce those demeaning, false and most of all deeply racists words,” wrote the 2012 UEFA Champions League winner.
He further wrote, “African leaders have a responsibility to protect their populations from those horrendous conspiracies. May god protect us!”
Former Chelsea and Newcastle United striker Demba Ba posted a video of the exchange on Twitter. “Welcome to the West, where white people believe themselves to be so superior that racism and stupidity become commonplace. TIME TO RISE,” he wrote as the caption.
Bienvenue en occident , la où le blanc se croit tellement supérieur que racisme et débilité deviennent banalité. TIME TO RISE ✊🏿 pic.twitter.com/R08R7K9QAw
— Demba Ba (@dembabafoot) April 2, 2020
Eto’o replied to Ba’s post on Twitter, “Sons of b*****s!”, before adding in a post on Instagram himself, “You are just S**T. Africa isn’t yours to play with.”
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The vaccine in question, BCG, is one among a number of antiviral drugs being considered to battle the pandemic. All potential vaccines must go through rigorous testing and development stages before they can be approved for widespread use.
The outbreak, which has affected at least one million people globally, has claimed the lives of 54,000 so far. While the US, Italy, and Spain are the most affected, the continent of Africa has seen around 7,400 cases and a death count of 239.