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Sofapaka's Okoth lashes out at 'racist' French doctors over coronavirus vaccine row

8:38 PM IST 08/04/20
RONALD OKOTH of Sofapaka vs KCB.
The striker reveals his displeasure at the comments made by the medical professionals as the world looks for ways to combat the pandemic

Sofapaka striker Ronald Okoth has blasted the French doctors who suggested coronavirus vaccine tests should be tested in Africa.

Professors Jean-Paul Mira and Camille Locht made the comments during an interview with French TV channel LCI, and attracted responses from notable African football figures.

In an interview with Goal, Okoth believes both Mira and Locht sounded racist and stressed Africa cannot be the place to test those vaccines for the first time.

“Definitely sounds racist,” Okoth when asked about the comments.

“It’s so unfortunate to even hear such statements from professionals who should know better. Africa is not a place for disposing or trying out new drugs.

“They definitely owe an apology to the whole continent. This is the time to unite the whole world and fight the pandemic collectively. Together we will eventually overcome.”

Okoth further wondered why the medical practitioners had to suggest Africa as a good place to carry out the tests when it has the least number of infections.

“Africa has been less hit compared to Europe where there are thousands of deaths being reported but, again, the sooner a vaccine is found the better,” he added.

“The most important thing right now is to get a solution and way out of this before it gets worse.”

The former Mathare United and Gor Mahia striker concluded the two professionals should receive disciplinary punishment from medical professional bodies.

“Absolutely,” Okoth responded when asked if the duo should be disciplined.

“Those are unprofessional and careless comments to utter especially at this critical time and moment.

"Hopefully, they face the necessary disciplinary actions at their workplaces and by the professional bodies.

“Being professionals, they should know better.”

During the debate, Mira, head of intensive care at Cochin hospital in Paris, stated the trials should be done in Africa where there is less protective gear available.

“If I can be provocative, shouldn't we be doing this study in Africa, where there are no masks, no treatments, no resuscitation?" he asked at the time.

“A bit like as it is done elsewhere for some studies on Aids. In prostitutes, we try things because we know that they are highly exposed and that they do not protect themselves.”

Locht, who is the research director at Inserm, echoed Mira's sentiments.

“You are right,” responded Locht.

“And by the way, we are in the process of thinking in parallel about a study in Africa. That doesn't prevent us, in parallel, from also thinking about a study in Europe and in Australia.”

On Friday, a statement from Mira's employers, Paris Network of Hospitals, said he had apologised to those who, he says, were hurt by the comments.

“I want to present all my apologies to those who were hurt, shocked and felt insulted by the remarks that I clumsily expressed on LCI this week,” the hospital's statement read as was quoted by the New York Times.

Ivory Coast legend Didier Drogba was among the first African stars to criticise the doctors for what he called “serious, racist and contemptuous" statements. He also said, “Africa is not a laboratory.”

Former Cameroon and Barcelona forward Samuel Eto'o called the doctors “sons of bitches,” adding “Africa is not theirs to play with.”