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COVID-19: Africa CDC decries French scientists’ call for Africans as clinical trials

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The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) on Thursday decried the two French scientists’ comments calling for use of Africans for clinical trials of tuberculosis vaccine as protective measures against COVID-19.

Dr John Nkengasong, Director, Africa CDC, made the assertion in a statement from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Headquarters, made available in to newsmen in Lagos.

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Nkengasong said that the comments made by Professors Jean-Paul Mira and Camille Lotch on French Television was racist, thus should be condemned by all.

“Indeed, COVID-19 is a global humanitarian crisis that requires global actions and global solidarity.

“Africa CDC will continue to work very closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to ensure that only ethically and scientifically sound clinical trials for vaccines and therapies will be conducted in Africa.

It will use exactly the same standards and principles as those employed elsewhere in the world.

“These principles will be guided by respect for the dignity of Africans, the beneficence and non-maleficence, and justice,” Nkengasong said.

He said that the Africa CDC would ensure that only studies that were valid scientifically would be endorsed.

“We shall ensure that there is appropriate balance between the predictable risks and foreseeable benefits, with the provision that the interests of subjects are not subordinate to those of science and society.

“We shall ensure that all individuals consent to participate in any trial, a decision that must be made without duress or coercion and only after details of the study are provided.

“Africa CDC will ensure that if multi-country clinical trials in Africa are conducted, they hold the promise of direct, tangible and significant benefit to the continent,” he said.

Nkengasong said that the French scientists have no lessons to teach Africans on the conduct of scientifically sound clinical trials.

According to him, Africa has extremely capable world-renowned scientists who have played critical leadership roles in conducting clinical trials that have benefited the continent and beyond.

“Some examples include the leadership of African scientists in conducting an effective Ebola Virus Disease ring vaccine trial in West Africa in 2014, which proved a game changer in ending the outbreak.

“Similarly, last year, experts from the Democratic Republic of Congo, alongside international collaborators, successfully carried out a clinical trial of Mab 114 monoclonal antibody therapy for Ebola Virus Disease,” he said.

Nkengasong said that with the COVID-19 pandemic, only collective international cooperation, through a collaborative and respectful approach could succeed in the conduct of sound research that would benefit the whole of humanity.

He said that the African Union Commission, through the Africa CDC, would continue to work with all partners in the framework of the continent-wide joint strategy.

Nkengasong said that the African Task Force for Novel Coronavirus would continue to support preparedness and response by African Union Member States to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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