Mark Suzman, the CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has registered the organisation’s displeasure at plans to is use Africans as guinea pigs for testing the COVID-19 vaccines, which are currently in the making.
This Suzman made known while speaking during a conference call with select African journalists.
He said the foundation has seen outrageous comments from some French doctors, noting that a lot of misinformation about the foundation’s work on vaccines had been passed across.
Early April, Jean Paul Mira and Camille Locht, two French doctors, sparked outrage after they said on television that “Africa as best destination to conduct test for COVID-19 vaccine”.
Suzman said the foundation’s work has “got mixed up with some of those you’re extremely outrageous and offensive comments that came from the French doctors and others about potentially using Africa as a sort of Guinea pigs for vaccines, which is something that we utterly reject”.
“There’s lots of misinformation about vaccines and actually Africa understands better than most because Africa still faces many of the most deadly diseases the vaccines help prevent.
“Vaccines work vaccines are a miraculous invention of modern science that actually allow and save millions upon millions of lives because an effective vaccine prevents people from getting potentially deadly diseases and that’s why we have global vaccination.”
He said part of the $250 million committed by the foundation to COVID-19 response is also to help the world achieve the fastest search for a vaccine in human history.
“We believe very strongly in vaccines and we believe as part of the COVID response that until we have a safe effective vaccine, there will be no return to global normal.
“That’s why we are strong supporters of CEPI, the coalition for epidemic preparedness innovations, and again, it was the experience of the search for vaccines for the Ebola virus after the experience in west Africa that actually helped precipitate the formation of CEPI which we helped form.
“CEPI is now at the forefront and of the search for a vaccine which we hope we can do on an accelerated basis and make this the fastest successful search for vaccine in human history, although that’s still likely at least 12 months away.”
He said to test “the safety and efficacy of vaccines” is done “mostly where people are sick”, adding that trials “are happening in places like North America and Europe” the epicentre of the pandemic.
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