A French doctor says he's sorry for suggesting Africa should be home to a trial for a coronavirus vaccine in televised comments viewed as racist. Jean-Paul Mira, the head of intensive care at Paris' Cochin Hospital, was discussing a vaccine trial in Europe and Australia during a debate on TV channel LCI last week when he suggested one continent was being overlooked. "If I could be provocative, shouldn’t we do this study in Africa where there are no masks, treatment, or intensive care, a little bit like we did in certain AIDS studies or with prostitutes?" asked Mira, per NBC News. "We tried things on prostitutes because they are highly exposed and do not protect themselves."
Camille Locht, the head of research at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, agreed with the idea. "We are in the process of thinking about a study in parallel in Africa," he said, per the BBC. After outrage across social media—including from Ivory Coast soccer star Didier Drogba, who described the idea of "African people as human guinea pigs" as "disgusting" and "deeply racist"—Locht's employer relayed an apology, per NBC. Mira has also apologized in a statement released by the hospital. "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," he said Friday. (Read more coronavirus stories.)