KENYANS are incensed by Covid-19 vaccine trial comments on the BBC suggesting that British scientists could start their trials in Kenya if tests in UK don’t get the expected results.
Fergus Walsh, the BBC medical correspondent, whilst speaking on the World Service about his assessment on how successful the trial in the UK could be, made the comments that have attracted the backlash.
He said: ‘We could be careful not to over-promise because we are desperate for this vaccine to work but the team in Oxford have a really strong record going back 30 years. They have developed successful prototype vaccines against another type of coronavirus, MERS.
‘… which has done well in clinical trials, they’ve also developed vaccines against plague, malaria (now) if they don’t get early quick results from the UK they are considering a trial in Kenya where the epidemic of the coronavirus will be on the rise.
‘As far as I have known, this vaccine is known to produce a strong antibody response but that doesn’t necessarily equate to protection. And we are going to need many vaccines with dozens in development.
‘Then we will need billions of doses and expect a huge debate over which countries and which groups of people get the vaccine first.’
The Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford, who are conducting the ongoing trial in the UK, have not commented on Welsh’s statement. The video is being widely shared on Kenya’s Twitter space.
The latest development evokes a similar outrage that accompanied a suggestion by two French scientists that a vaccine trial should start from Africa given the lack of facilities and health support system.
The WHO chief in responding to the topic slammed the scientists for what he said were racist remarks that smacked of a hangover from colonialism. Most Africans have urged their governments to not accept any such trials.